Health + Wellness

Do you really need 8hrs of sleep? Here’s what science has to say.

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Considering the fact that we spend one-third of our lives sleeping or trying to sleep, napping is a matter of great concern. Not to mention, there are horrific stats related to drowsy driving and sleeplessness floating in our newsfeed.

For instance, the AAA Foundation reveals that driving without getting proper shut-eye leads to 328,000 crashes yearly. These also include 109,000 crashes that reach a finale of 6,400 fatalities and 190,000 accidents.

Likewise, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention terms the current levels of sleep-deprivation an epidemic. SingHealth Polyclinics further reports that 4 in 10 people in Singapore fail to catch less than seven hours of sleep during weekday nights. Moreover, 26% can’t make up for the lost slumber on the weekends either.

By looking at these typical figures, it seems appropriate to assume that the problem stems from the lack of sleep. This means that eight hours of sleep in a day is crucial. But, who says its eight hours on the dot that are needed?

As per Psychology Today, there isn’t sufficient research that says that eight hours of sleep is recommended. At most, research claims that 6 ½ hours of sleep can be ideal. There’s fresh research also rolling in, which makes different conclusions on the required hours of sleep.

So, without further ado, let’s unravel what science says about the sleep timings that are ideal for you.

How much sleep do we really need?

Since sleep-deprivation is over-advertised and excessive sleep does not receive much attention, it can be confusing to pick the perfect sleep duration. New research by The National Sleep Foundation published in the journal Sleep Health talks about recommended hours of slumber.

The study revises the misconceptions and concludes that the exact hours of needed sleep varies from individual to individual. The research provides an approximate idea of the minimum and maximum amount of sleep needed by various age brackets.

Mentioned below is the latest scientific take on the recommended hours of sleep:

  • Newborn within the age range of 0-3 months require between 14-17 hours of sleep every day
  • Infants between the age bracket of 4-11 months require 12-15 hours of sleep
  • Toddlers of the age of 1-2 years need about 11-14 hours of slumber
  • Preschoolers aged between 3-5 should get about 10-13 hours of sleep
  • School-aged children of 6-13 should get 9-11 hours of sleep
  • Teenagers in the age bracket of 14-17 need 8-10 hours of rest
  • Younger adults of 18-25 need 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Adults between the ages of 26-64 need 7-9 hours of rest
  • Older adults aged 65 or above should get 7-8 hours of nap

These are mainly the rough outlines of the sleep duration as per our age. Generally, you can dedicate eight hours to being in bed. Dan Gartenberg, Ph.D., Penn State adjunct professor, and sleep researcher, adds to this.

He says, “If you’re in bed for eight hours, a healthy sleeper might actually sleep for only about 7.2 hour.” This is because roughly 10% of our time in bed goes to either trying to sleep or waking up slowly.

However, only you can pinpoint the exact hours of rest that you need. You can easily learn that by asking yourself questions such as how heavy-eyed you feel when you drive or how much caffeine you need to keep yourself awake throughout the day.

Similarly, dig out the relationship between your productivity level and the hours you spend in the land of Nod. You should also examine if you have any sleep problems that make it difficult for you to either catch some zzz or stay asleep through the night. All these factors will assist you in understanding the hours that you need to recharge your batteries.

How is excessive sleep bad for us?

In addition to knowing about what science has to say about eight hours in the arms of Morpheus, it is crucial to know about under and oversleeping too. Essentially, the association between mortality and sleep duration is expressed best in a U-shaped curve.

This means that the right arm of the U goes higher. In other words, getting less than 5 ½ hours of sleep links with some drop in mortality. However, sleeping beyond 9-10 hours poses an increased risk of decline in your lifespan.

On top of that, excessive napping can quickly turn the picture of a mci online test into a horrific one. This is because too much sleep serves as an early sign of dementia. Not to mention, senior folks who doze off a lot shoot their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

How is a lack of sleep harmful for us?

Wakefulness is just as bad for our health as excess sleeping is. Snatching an adequate amount of forty winks is critical for numerous bodily functions. The chief of these functions includes memory retention and the maintenance of your immune system.

Adequate sleep can also help regulate your hunger levels and chop your risk of developing several diseases. However, if you don’t rest well, you end up multiplying the odds of several negative health consequences.

For instance, braintests show that restlessness corresponds with an increased accumulation of Alzheimer’s proteins known as beta-amyloid proteins. Shortage of sleep also spirals the odds of brain inflammation and damaged brain cells, which signifies poor cognitive functioning.

A 2017 study goes on to say that a healthy person who doesn’t snooze enough is at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than a healthy person who rests well.

The bottom line

An analysis covering about 16 separate studies reveals that those who sleep for less than six hours regularly face 12% higher odds of premature death. On the other hand, individuals who sleep for longer than 8-9 hours in a night experience an even higher risk of early death at 30%.

This simply translates into finding the hours that your body needs to function at its best. The National Sleep Foundation has outlined the rough estimates. Keeping those in mind, you can easily uncover the right number of hours that you need to dedicate to dozing off.


Article contributed by: Alycia Gordan

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia

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