You can live without food much longer than you can go without sleep.
We’ve been told that eight hours of nightly sleep is optimal for healthy adults. Especially for those who exercise.
The benchmark range for the amount of sleep per night has been set at 7-9 hours.
Because it is such a dominant factor in our lives, scientists continue to research into the nature of sleep to understand it and find the best ways to get the best quality sleep.
Some research has shown that seven is the truly optimal number of hours of sleep. One such study which followed the sleep habits of over one million people between the ages of 30 and 102 over a six-year period found that people who normally slept six hours or less and more than eight hours had higher morbidity. It found that:
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“The best survival was found among those who slept 7 hours per night…reports of “insomnia” were not associated with excess mortality hazard…prescription sleeping pill use was associated with significantly increased mortality after control for reported sleep durations and insomnia. Patients can be reassured that short sleep and insomnia seem associated with little risk distinct from comorbidities”
Medicated Sleep is Not Healthy Sleep.
Because we’ve been told that eight hours of sleep is the “right” number, some people who habitually sleep less or who have broken sleep think there’s something wrong with them, plead insomnia, and ask their doctors for prescriptions for sleeping aids.
What they miss in their logic (along with the doctors who write the prescriptions) is that every individual is different; barring any underlying health issue, some people require less (or more) sleep than others. It’s normal.
Once they start taking a sleep aid, they often become dependent because it changes the content and quality of sleep, making them much worse off than before.
Comorbidities: Presence of Two Chronic Diseases or Conditions in a Patient.
Those who slept six or fewer hours and more than eight often suffered from other health problems (“comorbidities”).
We know that enough good-quality sleep affects every aspect of our day. When you fail to get enough rest, your brain and body just don’t work as well as they could.
A study using data from the Lumosity web-based cognitive training program found that mental performance directly correlates to routinely getting enough sleep.
Data showed that “cognitive performance in all three tasks was greater for users reporting larger amounts of sleep up to 7 h[ours] per night, after which it began to decrease.”
This supports an earlier study that found that in a group of 5431 people aged 45-69 over a two-year period, those who got more than 7-8 hours of sleep per night had a greater decline of cognitive function (other than memory) and those with less than that scored lower in every cognitive category.
The Magic Number = 7.
The basic problem that is fundamental to general health and well-being is that almost half of American adults don’t get enough sleep–by any measure–and the consequences are serious.
How do we know what’s enough for us? The next time you’re on vacation, go to sleep when you start to feel tired and don’t set an alarm–let your body wake you up. Do this for as long as possible–at least a week.
Chart your sleep patterns and you’ll discover how much sleep you really need and any trouble you have getting it. An interesting experiment in Germany placed five healthy adults into a Stone-Age-like environment for two months with no electricity, running water, contact with the outside world, or modern conveniences and noted how it affected their sleep patterns: they went to sleep earlier in the night and slept longer than usual. (The subjects’ average amount of sleep was just over seven hours.)
There are natural relaxing tools you can use to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. The constant visual and auditory stimulation that we’ve become so accustomed to make it harder for your brain to decompress. Becoming cognizant and attending to your body’s sleep needs will make you feel better and live longer.
If you are basically healthy, don’t let sleep become the issue; you know if you’re getting enough. And if you manage to get in a couple of extra hours on the weekends, don’t sweat it: “I don’t think you can overdose on healthy sleep. When you get enough sleep your body will wake you up,” said Safwan Badr, Chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.
What’s more a problem, it seems, is getting enough. http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=206050