How Much Sleep Do You Actually Need?
How much sleep do you actually need? According to scientists, we spend a third of our lives in bed, but there’s an oversupply of information out there nowadays. Some people swear by the eight hours per night rule, whilst a small chunk of people have tried ‘The Uberman’ – taking 20 minutes nap every four hours, sleeping two hours per day.
With all this information constipation, I’m going to enlighten you on how much sleep you really need.
Why sleep is crucial
Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our health, because it is in these deep, yielding hours, where our body truly goes to work. REM sleep restores our body’s cells and is when we have healthy new cell growth of the tissue and organs in the body. Also, in these hours, the immune system strengthens and renews itself, allowing our bodies to be strong against potential illness and keeping us alive into our old age.
If you want to get good gains in the gym, have a healthier brain chemistry and deeper focus, then getting a healthy amount of sleep is imperative.
Interesting fact: the average person gets less than seven to eight hours per night – around six-and-a-half hours per night – which equates to around 99 days per year.
The eight-hour rule
The famous eight-hour figure, which gets tossed around mercilessly: from self-proclaimed health gurus, to your beloved grandmother. Although you may think this figure seems to be a little too good to be true (since anything that is common knowledge is usually far off the mark) your beloved grandmother is actually right. Eight hours is the optimal hour of sleep per night for the average Joe and Sally (meaning, human being).
This is because eight hours is truly the number of hours that we naturally crave, and there is strong evidence to support that. In a series of experiments that took place, participants were taken into a laboratory with no light from the sun, no visual cues as to whether it was day or night, and were given a nine-hour window of time to sleep. They did this every night, repetitively over a number of weeks, and the results were always repeatable: even when provided with more time, humans on average naturally craved eight hours sleep per night.
There was also another control group who slept for seven hours per night – which funnily, some people would consider a luxury – and they were dozing off three times more than the control group who slept for the recommended eight hours per night. So, how much sleep can you take away before someone is cognitively challenged? Well, it seems that it is less than one hour.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation
You may not know how bad just one night of sleep deprivation can affect you, but just one bad night sleep can seriously hinder your cognitive abilities. Repeat studies have consistently found that a night of sleeplessness can seriously impair your faculties, to the equivalence of being legally drunk. Yes – being under slept is like being drunk.
You need to think about it in the long run – if you’re getting yourself into a sleep debt, sleeping less than eight hours per night, for weeks on end, then you’re effectively running around, tipsy, semi-drunk, or wasted (depending on the severity of your lack of sleep). How is this affecting your performance at work? How is this affecting your relationships to the ones you close dearly to your heart? How is this affecting your health and fitness goals?
The law of compounding means that whatever is small if it repeats, it will build over time into unsurmountable scales. So get your eight hours in, my friends.
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