Is 6 hours of sleep enough to feel rested?
Sleep is essential for good health, but those with demanding lifestyles may need help to get enough rest. ⏰
We spend a third of our lives sleeping, which can feel like wasted time.
Getting by on less sleep leaves more time for work, socialising, and other activities.
However, the downsides of sleeping less than the recommended amount can be significant. 👎
Less than 6 hours of sleep per night can cause daytime sleepiness, negatively affecting work quality and social interactions. 😔
It can also weaken the immune system, increase the risk of chronic health conditions, and contribute to negative moods, including anxiety and depression.
Despite the risks, chronic sleep deprivation is prevalent in modern society, with 1 in 8 Brits getting under 6 hours of sleep every night. 💤
Six hours of sleep is not enough for the overwhelming majority of us. I meet too many people in my work who allocate insufficient time for sleep (e.g., staying up late on social media, etc., and/or getting up early to go to the gym). A few people even ask how they might sleep less but to try to help with that would be irresponsible. You owe it to yourself and your long-term health to get enough sleep and you owe it to others (e.g., when you are driving) to ensure that you are properly rested.
It is essential to prioritise sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle and seek support if struggling to get adequate rest.
But what if you do need less sleep than others?
In some rare cases, 6 hours of sleep is enough to feel rested. 🤯
Scientists at University of California, San Francisco found a "short sleep gene" associated with being a naturally short sleeper!
Their experiments found this mutant gene makes you feel more awake, leading to shorter snooze time.
And guess what?
These natural short-sleepers don't suffer the usual sleep deprivation problems and experience better sleep quality and efficiency overall.✔️
Nevertheless, it's crucial to remember that this gene is present in less than 3% of the population, and most of us still require the usual 7 - 9 hours of sleep to feel fully refreshed.
What are the consequences of sleeping for 6 hours or less each night?
Sleep deprivation can have severe consequences for our physical and mental health. 😢
Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience, explains in his book Why We Sleep how sleep deprivation can quickly impair our cognitive skills and overall performance.
In one of his studies, Walker observed subjects and compared the effects of getting just 6 hours of sleep:
Ten days of six hours of sleep a night was all it took to become as impaired in performance as going without sleep for twenty-four hours straight. And like the total sleep deprivation group, the accruing performance impairment in the four-hour and six-hour sleep groups showed no signs of levelling out. All signs suggest that if the experiment had continued, the performance deterioration would continue to build up over weeks or months.
Why We Sleep
The group that got 6 hours of sleep or less per night showed no signs of improvement, and performance continued to deteriorate over time.
However, subjects that slept for 8 hours “retained a stable and near-perfect performance across the two weeks.”
Chronic sleep deprivation can have severe long-term effects like high blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular problems like heart disease. 💔
But it's also important to understand the difference between sleep quality and quantity. 👇
How to deal with sleep deprivation
If you're struggling with sleep deprivation, there are several strategies you can use to improve the quality and duration of your sleep.
Try the following methods:
- Create a comfortable sleep environment: Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet with comfortable bedding and pillows.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule: Practicing good sleep hygiene and establishing a sleep routine will make it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Both can disrupt sleep, making falling asleep or getting quality rest harder.
- Try relaxation techniques: Meditation, deep breathing and bathing before bed can help calm your mind and body before bedtime, promoting better sleep quality.
- Reduce screen time: Set aside time for relaxation before bed, avoid electronic devices emitting blue light, and develop a bedtime routine to signal your body that it's time to sleep.
However, these practices may not be enough for a more serious problem. 🤔
If sleep deprivation affects your daily lifestyle or you think you may suffer from a sleep disorder, you should seek advice from a qualified medical professional.
You may find that some sleep relaxation products help - we've linked to a few of our favourites below.