Quality sleep is essential to health and mental wellbeing. As you sleep, your body repairs itself, memories are stored, hormones are regulated, and energy is replenished. But, do you ever wonder how to train yourself to need less sleep? Some people say they can survive on less than six hours of sleep per night, but is it healthy? Let’s find out.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
A healthy adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night to maintain health. Sleeping less than that could be detrimental to the quality of your immune response. You may find you’re more susceptible to picking up colds or feel a lack of energy from not sleeping enough. When you’re recovering from illness or injury, you may need to sleep more than 9 hours to help your body heal.
Sleeping less could lead to daytime fatigue, loss of concentration, lowered immune response, and weight gain.
Is Sleeping Less Bad for You?
If you’re wondering how to reduce sleep, it may be worthwhile to reconsider. Sleeping less could lead to daytime fatigue, loss of concentration, lowered immune response, and increased risk of diabetes and other illnesses. Sleeping less could cause some serious accidents, especially when driving or operating heavy machinery, or cause you to have an accident at home. Sleeping less can cause high blood pressure which puts a strain on your heart. While you may gain an extra couple of hours to work or play, the negative toll on your health is not worth it.
Can you Train Yourself to Need Less Sleep?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) millions of Americans survive on less than 7 hours of sleep per night. You could train yourself to need less sleep, but your cognitive performance and physical health could suffer. Professor Jim Horne, a sleep expert and former director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University in England, in his research concluded that it is possible to sleep 6 hours per night and still function. But, a short nap during the day is required, and cutting back sleep is a gradual process that must be done slowly and carefully. The most important factor is not how to sleep less, but how to sleep better.
Tips on How to Train Your Body to Need Less Sleep
To sleep less without jeopardizing your health, you want to focus on sleep quality and getting as much restorative rest as you can in the time that you set aside for sleep. Focus your efforts on decreasing the time it takes you to fall asleep, and getting a healthy amount of REM and deep sleep.
A few strategies for improving your overall sleep quality, falling asleep faster, and avoiding sleep disruptions include:
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Get up at the same time every morning
- Get plenty of natural sunlight, especially early in the day
- Turn the temperature down in your bedroom before sleep
- Avoid bright lights and blue-light emitting devices before bed
- Avoid eating at least 3 hours prior to bedtime
- Exercise daily, but avoid heavy activity in the hours leading up to bed
How to Stop Oversleeping
Oversleeping could be the result of not getting enough quality sleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning all night, you may feel as if you need to stay in bed for an extra hour or two when you’re due to get out of bed. You may also feel like you need to make up for loss sleep on late nights, but end up overcompensating and throwing off your sleep schedule and circadian rhythm.
Again, to avoid oversleeping, you want to improve the overall quality of your sleep. In addition to the tips listed above, you can try the following to curb oversleeping.
- Find an alarm clock that works for you and discourages you from hitting snooze.
- Don't sleep with your phone near you bed. Forcing yourself to get out of bed to get your phone prevents you from waking up, checking your phone, then falling right back to sleep.
- Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends.
- Get sun exposure first thing in the morning to help wake yourself up and feel energized.
- If you take naps, only take "power naps" lasting 20 to 30 minutes.
Want to know how to wake up early and energized? Learn, here.
Can I Survive on 6 Hours of Sleep?
The CDC recommends adults get at least 7 hours of sleep a night for optimal health. While you can certainly survive on 6 hours of sleep a night, you'll feel the physical, emotional, and cognitive consequences of fatigue if it becomes a pattern.
Can I Survive on 4 Hours of Sleep?
The vast majority of people cannot lead a healthy lifestyle or function properly on 4 hours of sleep a night; only sleeping 4 hours a night often results in chronic sleep deprivation. Chronic sleep loss can increase the risks of weight gain, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, depression, impaired cognition, injuries and accidents, irritability, impaired memory, and more.
Sleeping less at night is best achieved if you can take a daytime nap. But, for most people, this is unfortunately not an option. It’s inadvisable to sleep less than 7 hours every night because, during deep sleep, your body repairs itself, hormones are regulated, memories are stored, and health reinvigorated. Quality sleep leads to fun, active days, and a comfortable mattress can get you there.