What if you only slept a couple of hours every night? Is sleep really that important for your health and well being? Let’s find out together and then maybe we will take a well earned nap.
Well it looks like some people might only need a few hours of sleep. They are called ‘Short Sleepers’ or ‘The Sleepless Elite’. These individuals might make up about 1% of our society and are the early-birds and the night-owls of our world, only needing a few hours of sleep. However, some scientists disagree on if these individuals are still in their best health with only a few hours of sleep at night. And even if they are and this is true keep in mind that there are only a very small percentage of the population. Most of us need quite a few more hours of sleep at night than that. But just how much? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep and teenagers get around 8 to 10. This amount increases the younger a person is with newborn babies needing 14 to 17 hours of sleep for optimal health. And for all the teenage people who find it hard to stay awake in class, the sleep experts at the National Sleep Foundation have your back. They say your biological internal clock helps keep you awake later in the evening making it so that you want to stay asleep during those early morning classes.
So, getting the right amount of sleep is important to staying healthy for most people. With the study that looked at older adults, researchers found that sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 10 hours a night was associated with a higher likelihood of healthcare use. Shorter durations were linked with greater odds of emergency department visits and longer durations lined up with greater odds of overnight hospital stay. Maybe, the saying should be, ‘the right amount of sleep a day keeps the doctor away.
Disrupting your sleeping cycles seems to have negative consequences on your health as well. Based on current studies sleep disruption has been reported to increase the risk of Incident Dementia. One such study examined 737 older adults and found that the greater amounts of sleep fragmentation was associated with an increase in cognitive decline. Sleeping less also seems to have a correlation with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of Dementia.
In a 2017 review article published by the Oxford University Press, its been hypothesized that humans’ natural selection for shorter sleep cycles has compromised the efficiency of the physiological mechanisms that protect us against Alzheimer’s disease during sleep. They believe this is because humans sleep less than other primates but have a much higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Future researches will shed more light on this which could potentially go a long way with protecting people from Alzheimer’s disease.
Long story short, you should probably get some sleep because your body depends on it.