Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
Six Hours? Eight Hours? What Science Has to Say About Exactly How Much Sleep We Really Need
How much sleep we actually need has been the topic of much debate. So, are you getting enough sleep? Sleeping less than eight hours per night appears to trigger some powerful reactions in our bodies. Recent studies have found that getting just six hours of sleep per night for two weeks makes a person as impaired as someone who has gone for 24 hours without sleep!
Getting six hours of sleep is clearly not enough. But what about seven? Researchers have looked at that, too. And while they find less impairment than in those who get six hours of sleep, even that extra hour isn’t enough sleep to let someone operate at optimum performance. According to one study, each day they get just seven hours of sleep per night, people become less and less able to perform a standard test of alertness and mental focus.
According to recent studies by the National Sleep Foundation, Americans average 6.9 hours of sleep per night on weeknights. One study in Michigan found that of their random sampling, people got an average of 6.7 hours per night during the workweek and 7.4 hours per night on weekends. This would mean that the people surveyed really never got enough sleep. They were chronically sleep deprived on average. Which means that for every person in the study who was getting the proper eight hours, someone else was severely deprived. However, after two weeks of sleep deprivation, the subjects of these studies report only being “slightly sleepy,” regardless of the fact that their performance scores had dropped to their lowest levels during the study. In other words, we are very poor judges of just how much our sleep deprivation is affecting our function.
Our current level of sleep deprivation is a relatively new phenomenon for humans. It’s a product of modern life that has rapidly accelerated over just the last few years as new technology has become commonplace. Putting effort into getting a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep will work wonders for your health. Sleep tight!