Food, shelter, air, water, and last but not least, SLEEP. Out of all the basic human survival needs, I’m going to assume that sleep is a fan favorite.
Most people, including myself, love them some sleep, and I hope so, since you spend 1/3 of your life sleeping.
You always hear that you need 8 hours of sleep every single night. For a while, I worried about my future health since I hardly ever get my recommended dose of sleep.
But, I never feel tired or lacked energy throughout the day, so I figured what I was doing worked. I find that healthy nutrition, cold showers, and physical activity keeps me energized throughout the day.
I only get around 6 hours of sleep per night (11 PM or midnight – 5 or 6 AM), with a 20-30 minute evening nap. And yes, I do take naps.
So how much sleep do you really need?
Where Does The 8 Hours of Sleep Come From?
One of the most infamous postings on sleep from The National Sleep Foundation, which includes personal opinions of 18 leading scientists and researchers within this foundation, came up with a RECOMMENDED amount of sleep per night.
According to this article, people between the ages of 18-64 should strive for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. They also suggest seeing what works best for you, since it’s not a one size fits all ordeal.
Not only is it important how long you sleep, but also the quality of sleep, and pretty much all agree on the below ways to improve your quality of sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule, especially on weekends.
- Have a relaxing bedtime ritual.
- Exercise DAILY
- Make sure your bedtime arrangement is comfortable with minimal lighting.
- Alcohol and caffeine reduce your value of sleep.
- NO electronics before bed.
So, what’s more important, 9 hours of constant tossing and turning or 5 hours of good, sound sleep? If I check all the above bullet points off, but only get 6 hours of sleep, am I doomed?
I’m not too sure they know.
The Counter Argument
“Sleep is such a multi-factorial and complex issue.”
As quoted in an interesting article written by clinical psychologist Dr. Martin H. Shaevitze who also states that research supporting the need for at least 8 hours of sleep per night does not exist.
He also claims that this myth is used to promote sleeping pills. If you can’t get your full 8 hours of sleep, then go ahead and purchase these sleeping pills as a quick and easy solution.
In his article, he also links some interesting studies, and after looking into them, he certainly has his point.
Actually, the relationship between the amount of sleep per night needed versus longevity is an upside down “U” shape. In a study done by Dr. Daniel F. Knipke, Dr. Robert D. Langer, and Dr. Lawrence E. Kline, they concluded that the optimal duration of sleep per night is below the reported 8 hours. In their study:
- People who sleep between 5-6.5 hours per night had minimal risk of mortality.
- People who sleep less than 5 and more than 6.5 hours of sleep had a reduced chance for survival.
In another study done by almost all of the same doctors, they found that patients prescribed fewer than 18 hypnotic (a.k.a sleeping pills) doses per year experienced increased mortality. Their study concluded:
- Patients receiving prescriptions for zolpidem, temazepam, and other hypnotics suffered over 4 times the mortality as the matched hypnotic free control patients.
- Among patients prescribed hypnotics had an overall cancer incidence increase of 35% amount those prescribed high doses.
Successful People & Their Sleep Schedules
Just to prove that sleep is a complex issue in relation to longevity, let’s look at a few successful people and how they caught their “zzzz’s” throughout their life.
- Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1940-1945 (WWII era) and again from 1951-1955.
- Won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953.
- Kept a bed in the House of British Parliament.
- Considered to be a “night owl”, staying up late throughout the night, getting roughly 3-4 hours of sleep per night.
- Relied heavily on 2 hour power naps throughout the day.
- Lived to the age of 90.
- German physicist born in 1879.
- Won a Nobel Prize in Physics for his research in photoelectric effect.
- Developer of the theory of relativity and advanced quantum theory even further.
- Slept a full 10 hours every night.
- Died at the age of 76 years old.
- Croatian descent born in 1856
- Known as one the greatest electrical engineers of all time, creator of hundreds of patents.
- Designed the alternating current (AC) electric system which is still used today.
- Invented and patented the Tesla coil, which is also still used today.
- Slept a few hours per night, as little as 2 hours, with power naps throughout the day.
- Died at the age of 86.
Of course, sleep is very important. But your lifespan isn’t determined by the numerical value of sleep you get per night. If you’re feeling great on the amount of sleep you have, then go ahead and continue what you’re doing!
Hope you enjoyed this week’s post! If you’ve missed last week’s post on beginning your path to financial freedom, click here! As always, don’t forget to like, comment, share, and subscribe!
“Sleep is the best meditation.”
Book of the Month: “Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland” by Mark Manson