How Little Sleep Can You Get Away With?
How much sleep you need at least seven hours, for most people.
Just like 2,000 calories is not the right amount for everyone, neither is a one-size-fits-all number like eight hours of sleep. If you are sick or if you exercise a lot, you may need more sleep. And as you age, you will probably need less.
For adults from 26 to 64 years:
Sleep deprivation’s adverse effect on multitasking performance, weight regulation, job safety, mental health, sugar regulation, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health was noted, particularly with nighttime sleep deprivation during the workweek.
The effects of sleep deprivation go beyond mere sleepiness.
Besides the effects mentioned above, you may lack the judgment to make ethical decisions, or be more likely to gain weight over time. Missing out on sleep can make you more likely to die of a heart attack.
Longer term, work schedules that routinely disrupt employees’ sleep are on the IARC’s list of “probable” causes of cancer. That’s the same category as red meat, hot beverages, and the pesticide glyphosate. To be clear, we don’t know for sure that shift work is a carcinogen, but there are enough links between sleep deprivation and poor health that the idea is not far-fetched.
No, Naps Probably Can’t Replace Sleep
So far, we’ve been assuming that you get all or most of your sleep in one big chunk at night. Long-time Lifehacker readers might remember that a few years ago, polyphasic sleep was all the rage: just take six tiny naps per day, and you can ditch the whole idea of getting a good night’s sleep. If this worked, it would be the ultimate time saver.
Great thinkers throughout history supposedly slept very little or on erratic schedules—Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Jefferson are classic examples. But those stories don’t really hold up to inspection, and conveniently these geniuses are all dead and can’t be interviewed.
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