How Much Sleep Do I Need – and What Are the Health Benefits?
It is an accepted truth that as humans we need to sleep.
Whether fitful or indolent during the day, we take instruction from our bodies, which invariably command us to repose as the night wears on.
Sleep is critical to our physiological functionality, impacting everything from metabolic rate to memory. But how much is enough?
If you've ever asked "How much sleep do I need?" you'll want to keep reading.
Falling Asleep in Public
The oft-asked question was given attention this summer, when Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to doze off during a speech by her predecessor David Cameron. In mitigation, she is not the first parliamentarian to succumb to somnolence in the hallowed House of Commons, but the story did throw light on comments May had made in 2014, when she admitted to managing just “five or six hours” sleep a night.
Interestingly enough, Thatcher was said to subsist on just four hours during her time in office. Although four hours’ sleep per night would seem dangerously insufficient to many, the logical question to ask is this: if a Prime Minister can govern the affairs of state with minimal shut-eye, how vital can it really be?
Sleep: The Official Recommendations
It is not easy to deepen the public’s appreciation of sleep’s health benefits, around which there is a good deal of confusion. One factor is the perception, held by some, that sleep is, well, surplus to requirements.
Over the years certain mavericks have asserted – with an air of cold-eyed vigilance – that their success derives from a pathological aversion to languor, as though sleep were a luxury to be shrewdly and thriftily managed. Evidently, they are wrong. It is for good reason that the NHS advise adults to slumber for between six and nine hours each night.
For their part, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends a minimum of seven hours’ sleep for adults aged 18 to 60. Sacrificing sleep generally leaves one feeling discombobulated, listless, unable to focus their attention for sustained periods. Hence the hordes of caffeinated commuters clutching their styrofoam Costa cups as they bustle into the office.
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Sleep?
It is generally agreed that too little sleep is harmful, but what about too much? Research conducted by the University of Warwick seems to show that adults who typically doze for less than six or more than eight hours a night are at risk of dying earlier than their contemporaries who sleep for six to eight hours.
Professor Franco Cappuccio, who carried out the analysis, surmised that those sleeping for longer than eight hours are often battling underlying health problems which are yet to reveal other symptoms. Nevertheless, the conversation continues.
Ultimately it all comes down to this: sleep is conducive to good health. The risks associated with chronic sleeplessness include high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Don’t follow the blueprint of sleep-shunning careerists like Thatcher and Trump: switch off the light, close your eyes and dare to dream. Your body will thank you for it.