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Why you probably need more sleep.

Why You Probably Need More Sleep

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Sleep: yes, you really do still need it!

We asked you how much sleep you usually get, and got the above-pictured, below-described set of responses:

  • A little of a third of all respondents selected the option “< 7 hours”
  • However, because respondents also selected options such as < 6 hours, < 5 hours, and < 4 hours, so if we include those in the tally, the actual total percentage of respondents who reported getting under 7 hours, is actually more like 62%, or just under two thirds of all respondents.
  • Nine respondents, which was about 5% of the total, reported usually getting under 4 hours sleep
  • A little over quarter of respondents reported usually getting between 7 and 8 hours sleep
  • Fifteen respondents, which was a little under 10% of the total, reported usually getting between 8 and 9 hours of sleep
  • Three respondents, which was a little under 2% of the total, reported getting over 9 hours of sleep
  • In terms of the classic “you should get 7–9 hours sleep”, approximately a third of respondents reported getting this amount.

You need to get 7–9 hours sleep: True or False?

True! Unless you have a (rare!) mutated ADRB1 gene, which reduces that.

The way to know whether you have this, without genomic testing to know for sure, is: do you regularly get under 6.5 hours sleep, and yet continue to go through life bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? If so, you probably have that gene. If you experience daytime fatigue, brain fog, and restlessness, you probably don’t.

About that mutated ADRB1 gene:

NIH | Gene identified in people who need little sleep

Quality of sleep matters as much as duration, and a lot of studies use the “RU-Sated” framework, which assesses six key dimensions of sleep that have been consistently associated with better health outcomes. These are:

  • regularity / usual hours
  • satisfaction with sleep
  • alertness during waking hours
  • timing of sleep
  • efficiency of sleep
  • duration of sleep

But, that doesn’t mean that you can skimp on the last one if the others are in order. In fact, getting a good 7 hours sleep can reduce your risk of getting a cold by three or four times (compared with six or fewer hours):

Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold

^This study was about the common cold, but you may be aware there are more serious respiratory viruses freely available, and you don’t want those, either.

Napping is good for the health: True or False?

True or False, depending on how you’re doing it!

If you’re trying to do it to sleep less in total (per polyphasic sleep scheduling), then no, this will not work in any sustainable fashion and will be ruinous to the health. We did a Mythbusting Friday special on specifically this, a while back:

Could Just Two Hours Sleep Per Day Be Enough?

PS: you might remember Betteridge’s Law of Headlines 😉

If you’re doing it as a energy-boosting supplement to a reasonable night’s sleep, napping can indeed be beneficial to the health, and can give benefits such as:

However! There is still a right and a wrong way to go about it, and we wrote about this previously, for a Saturday Life Hacks edition of 10almonds:

How To Nap Like A Pro (No More “Sleep Hangovers”!)

As we get older, we need less sleep: True or False

False, with one small caveat.

The small caveat: children and adolescents need 9–12 hours sleep because, uncredited as it goes, they are doing some seriously impressive bodybuilding, and that is exhausting to the body. So, an adult (with a normal lifestyle, who is not a bodybuilder) will tend to need less sleep than a child/adolescent.

But, the statement “As we get older, we need less sleep” is generally taken to mean “People in the 65+ age bracket need less sleep than younger adults”, and this popular myth is based on anecdotal observational evidence: older people tend to sleep less (as our survey above shows! For any who aren’t aware, our readership is heavily weighted towards the 60+ demographic), and still continue functioning, after all.

Just because we survive something with a degree of resilience doesn’t mean it’s good for us.

In fact, there can be serious health risks from not getting enough sleep in later years, for example:

Sleep deficiency promotes Alzheimer’s disease development and progression

Want to get better sleep?

What gets measured, gets done. Sleep tracking apps can be a really good tool for getting one’s sleep on a healthier track. We compared and contrasted some popular ones:

The Head-To-Head Of Google and Apple’s Top Apps For Getting Your Head Down

Take good care of yourself!

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