Seriously. How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

As most teachers are heading back to the classroom for the start of another school year, many are bemoaning the loss of something they’ve grown accustomed to over the summer: more sleep.

How much does sleep really matter though? We know that more sleep is good for your brain, and most of us know first hand that when you don’t sleep enough, you start the day groggy and cranky, among many other ailments. And while you’ll never find me giving coffee a thumbs down, I do know that extra sleep gets me through the day better than coffee can. The fun video below explores the issue in a lot more detail than I’ve just given you here – so take a couple of minutes to see what it has to say. Maybe it will convince you to head to bed an hour earlier tonight, so you don’t end up with someone having to draw your brain with chunks missing!

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

  • Humans spend about 24 years sleeping over the course of a lifetime
  • Studies have examined subjects who sleep for 4, 6, and 8 hours
  • Subjects in the 4 and 6 hour groups exhibited both attention lapses and cognitive issues.
  • Subjects in the 4 hour group even fell asleep during their cognitive tests (after 2 weeks)
  • Subjects in the 6 hour group exhibited decreased reaction time similar to those of being intoxicated (after 2 weeks)
  • In both the 4 and 6 hour groups, cognitive function decreased almost linearly with time and showed no signs of leveling off
  • This cumulative effect is referred to as ‘sleep debt’
  • While you can ‘recover’ from a few nights of less sleep, it is unknown whether you can truly recover brain function from long term sleep debt
  • With sleep deprivation, the level of sleepiness you ‘feel’ does eventually level off, so people often think they’re ‘fine’ and ‘don’t need that much sleep’
  • Scientists say 7-8 hours of sleep per night is ideal for most humans
  • Adults who consistently sleep less than 7 hours per night are at increased risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, along with a 12% higher risk of death
  • Adults who consistently sleep more than 7 hours per night are at increased risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, along with a 30% higher risk of death – so staying in bed TOO long doesn’t help you out!
  • There is actually a gene mutation that has been found in people who are genuinely unaffected by 6 hours of sleep per night
  • These ‘short sleepers’ have more biologically intense sleep sessions than the average person