Friday, July 12, 2024

Is 8 Hours of Sleep Really Necessary?


Adequate and restful sleep is the foundation of a healthy life.  It is such a great feeling to be well rested, energetic and alert through out the entire day.  In fact, a December 2004 study in the journal Science found that the quality of our sleep has a greater influence on our ability to enjoy our day than household income or marital status.

According to the latest statistics of the National Sleep Foundation, almost seventy million Americans suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.  What makes this even more serious is that they may not even be aware of it.  They do not realize that they could be much more alert, effective and dynamic if they had adequate sleep.

If you get less than six hours of sleep each night, you are more likely to be sad, stressed, and irritable, according to the National Sleep Foundation.  You will also have a higher risk of developing impaired fasting glucose, a condition that can precede type 2 diabetes.

According to Joseph Ojilie, M.D., founder of the Clayton Sleep Institute in St. Louis, “Only 1 to 3 percent of people are genetically wired to function on less than eight hours of sleep per night.”  Yet many people mistakenly believe that they only need six or seven hours of sleep each night.  Perhaps this is why a 2009 survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, found that the average adult in the United States gets just 6.7 hours of sleep on weeknights, and only slightly more on the weekends.

In 1910, adults slept an average of nine hours each night.  In 1975, the average adult only slept seven and one half hours per night.  However, by 2000, this figure declined to only seven hours of sleep per night.  Americans on average are continuing to get less sleep.  In 2001, 38 percent of Americans reported getting eight hours of sleep on a regular basis.  In a survey conducted in 2009, only 28 percent of the adults reported regularly getting eight hours of sleep.

If you typically get less than seven hours of sleep each night, you need make some changes to your lifestyle.  Perhaps you are up too late watching television or surfing the internet.  Don’t treat adequate sleep as a luxury for the weekends.  Make adequate sleep an important priority.

If you only get seven hours of sleep each night, try going to bed an hour earlier.  You may be surprised at how much better you feel.  Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that seven-hour sleepers were sleepier during the day than those who slept a full eight hours.  When the seven-hour sleepers happened to get eight hours of sleep, they were able to focus on tasks more easily and they had quicker reaction times.

The reason the extra hour of sleep made such a difference is due to the fact that the 8th hour is almost all REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.  This type of sleep is important because it is when the brain repairs itself and forms new connections.  This enables you to have more energy and think more effectively.

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