Dear Lifehacker, You talk about sleep a lot on this site and how many people aren’t getting enough sleep. I went through a stage where I wasn’t sleeping well, as though I wasn’t actually getting into the deep sleep phases, so I decided to give myself a regular eight hours. I followed all the rules. Only I found that I was sleeping worse.
Realising this I decided just to go to use a sleep tracker. I would go to bed when I was tired and wake without an alarm. I wake up as much as four times a night (not a surprise, I have always done this) but I found that if I slept for six hours I would wake less and feel better than if I slept for eight. So the question is: what about people who need less than eight hours? Thanks, Light Sleeper
Sleep picture from Shutterstock
Eight hours is only a rule of thumb, not an absolute prescription. As we have noted in the past, it’s generally better to get 6-7 hours of deep or slow-wave sleep (SWS) than 8-9 hours of restless shuteye.
If you find six hours works for you, I wouldn’t stress about getting the “correct” amount. In fact, some schools of thought claim that six or seven hours is actually better for your health.
In a large-scale study involving 1.1 million participants, the University of California compared sleeping patterns to depression and mortality. He found that people who sleep between six-and-a-half hours and seven-and-a-half hours a night tend to have more energy, feel happier and live longer than anyone else.
Interestingly, participants who slept the average eight hours per night were 12 percent more likely to die within the six-year period of the study than those sleeping 7 hours.
“Individuals who average 6.5 hours of sleep a night can be reassured that this is a safe amount of sleep,” head researcher Daniel Kripke said. “From a health standpoint, there is no reason to sleep longer.”
If you want to feel more energetic, adding a power nap into your sleep schedule could be the way to go. The below video gives some handy insights into why this can help:
Other than that, just remember that the key rules for getting good sleep — reducing stress, eating well, exercising and maintaining a sleep-friendly bedroom — apply whatever your exact requirements are.
If you feel energised and well-rested after six hours of sleep, keep doing whatever it is you’re doing and enjoy those extra hours of productivity!
See also: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need To Work As Productively As Possible? | Master Your ‘Body Clock’ To Eat, Sleep And Work More Efficiently | How To Transform Your Bright And Noisy Bedroom Into A Sleep Paradise | How Sleep Detoxes Our Brains
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