How much sleep do we really need?
Do we really need to spend a third of our whole lives doing nothing better than just sleeping? Particularly with the increasingly harsh economy when there’s a whole lot to do. Couldn’t we just sacrifice some sleep for some more hours of productive activity?
Here’s why that will be a bad idea
- Sleep helps your brain work properly. Have you ever wondered why you sometimes wake up with a bright idea (occurring de novo) in your head? That’s probably because during sleep all your memories are rearranged in an organised manner (a process called consolidation)which makes it easier to locate (remember) and new connections between memories are made (learning). Just think of your brain as a library and Sleep as the Librarian who keeps everything in order.
- Sleep makes you feel better emotionally. If you have ever told someone (or been told yourself) to go sleep off a bad mood, you were actually speaking literally not metaphorically. Sleep has been proven to lift mood, reduce irritability/anger and improve motivation. Sleep also improves attention and creativity. Sleep deprivation on the other hand is associated with depression, suicidality, mood swings, poor decision making among others.
- Sleep helps your body work better. Sleep helps regulate hunger, insulin function and weight. Poor sleep may therefore increase risk of diabetes. Try and remember the late nights you have had. More often than not, you probably spent the time snacking and drinking ( alcohol or coffee- whichever your preference). Sleep also helps regulate the function of the immune system which helps defend the body from diseases ( so if you know anyone who regularly falls ill close to exams and says the witches in his village are doing overtime on his/her matter, you should rather suggest he/she gets better sleep)
- Good nighttime sleep improves daytime performance. If you ask most people the possible effects of staying up overnight on performance the next day, you probably expect responses like lethargy, drowsiness, delayed reaction time. What then will be the impact of losing let’s say 1 hour of sleep everyday for about a week? The answer? The same as an overnight vigil.
So after about a week of just 1 hour less sleep per day, performance (productivity) drops off significantly until the debt is repaid. In other words, we can’t actually sacrifice sleep for more hours of productivity since less sleep = less productivity
less sleep = less productivity
You will probably have noticed that this article focused solely on the quantity of sleep and not the quality. You may have also noticed that there was no mention of any specific quantity of sleep that is appropriate and for what groups. For example, who needs sleep more, men or women? How much sleep do i need as a teenager as compared to in middle age? If two individuals sleep exactly the same number of hours (minutes or even seconds) does this mean that they will have the same impact of the sleep? What determines the differences, if any? How do i get good (better) quality sleep?
All these questions will be answered in subsequent posts.
Meanwhile, i need my beauty sleep.