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How Much Sleep Do You Actually Need?

If you don’t sleep enough, you are in trouble

So, how much sleep do you need and can you ever catch up on lost sleep? Sleep is necessary to function productively and efficiently. Actually, you spend 24 years of your life time sleeping so it is very important.

Whenever you are irritable, groggy and exceptionally lazy you feel very tired and chances are that you didn’t sleep enough last night or the past few nights.

Did you sleep enough last night?

A study was carried out on three groups of people who slept for 8 hours, 6 hours and 4 hours. After 14 days, those who slept for 8 hours had fewer tension lapses or cognitive issues. Surprisingly, those that slept for 6 or 4 hours showed a steady decline.

Actually, after 14 days, those who slept for 6 hours showed a similar reaction time to that of a person with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1%. That is considered legally drunk. The 4 hour sleepers suffered more occasionally falling asleep during their cognitive test. Brain function declined with time on these last two groups.

Lack of enough sleep causes similar reaction time to that of a person with alcohol in their blood

This cumulative effect is called ‘Sleep Debt. Can you recover from it? According to studies, after a night or two of little sleep, the body brain can fully recover with a few nights of good sleep.

However, with long term sleep deprivation on the scale of weeks to months, the recovery of cognitive function is much slower requiring more nights of cozy sleep. On the time scale of months to years, it is not known if the brain function fully repaired or it will causes permanent damage.

Ironically with chronic sleep deprivation, your sleepiness or how tired you feel does eventually level off. That means you become less aware of your impairment over time? So, how long should you sleep?

Most studies recommend 7 to 8 hours as the ideal time. Apart from cognitive issues, people who sleep for less than 7 hours daily have a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes. Additionally, there is a 12 % increased risk of death. On the flip side, studies have shown that those sleeping for more than 8 hours have are running another risk. They have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and 30 % increased risk of death.

Having known about the ideal average of 7 to 8 hours, it’s important to let your body and brain help you figure out its own needs. That way you will be able to know how much you should sleep.


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