Sleep Science: Is Eight Hours Truly Enough?

We’ve always heard about how getting a good night’s sleep is a highly important part of making sure your health is in top-notch condition. It’s equally as important as having a balanced diet and doing regular exercise. However, our lifestyles have changed our natural sleep patterns over the years. Now, many people are sleeping a lot less than they did before, and the quality of sleep has seen a tremendous decrease as well.

But should this really be a cause for concern? While many believe that getting eight hours of sleep every day should be a priority, others have testified that they can function perfectly fine even with just four or five. So, the important question here is, is the human brain designed to require a full eight hours of sleep or is it different depending on the person? Here’s what experts have to say:

A Person’s Genes

Don’t get it wrong; sleep is absolutely essential. People have gone to great lengths to make sure they get quality sleep: take sleeping pills, buy high-quality hotel beddings, and listen to lullabies at night. Many studies have proven how consistent lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on a person’s health and lifespan. The reason is that many important brain and body maintenance functions occur while we sleep because they can’t be done when we’re awake.

On average, eight hours of sleep is what every human needs, but the exact length of time necessary to achieve these important sleep functions is highly dependent on a person’s genes.

Short sleepers only require seven hours to fully function throughout the day, while long sleepers need at least nine. While there are others, mostly politicians, who claim to be efficient even with fewer hours of sleep than average, many of them may actually be chronically sleep deprived. The only exception to this rule are people who were born with a genetic variant in which their brains can function even better with only six hours of sleep or even less.

However, these cases are extremely rare and only a few members of the population have this gene. So, it’s still highly recommended to sleep for as long as your brain dictates you to do so.

Other Factors

woman sleeping

The belief that everyone needs eight hours of sleep in order to function well started from the industrial revolution. In one day, an individual needs eight hours to work, eight hours to relax, and eight hours to sleep. As mentioned above, your genes play a huge role in determining how much sleep your body needs, but there are other factors to consider as well, such as your existing medical conditions, age, and both behavioral and environmental factors. That’s why the number of hours needed varies depending on the individual.

Due to work and other social events, people often sacrifice their sleep. However, it’s a highly important building block of staying in good health. So, if eight hours isn’t plausible due to your daily schedule, try to aim for at least seven but never less than six. Don’t put sleep at the bottom of your priority list.

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