Is it six hours? Seven hours? Eight hours? Nine hours? Or ten hours? What about 12 hours?
Do you brag about how you can function efficiently with only 4 hours of sleep?
Then let me make a guess — your health & fitness efforts are not yielding maximum ROI. Is that correct?
Let’s see what science has to say —
— Chronic sleep restriction causes increased consumption of foods with a high glycemic index, particularly desserts/sweets. It may cause changes in dietary behaviors that increase risk of obesity and associated morbidity.
— Where as the optimal amount of sleep — not too little or too much — may reduce risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
But what is enough, and is more better?
In a fascinating sleep research out of Japan, here’s what researchers found –
→ Sleep fewer hours, and mortality goes up; sleep any longer, and mortality goes up.
But the question remains:
To maximize health and longevity, is the optimal sleep duration six hours? Seven hours? Eight hours? Nine hours? Or ten hours? And for those of you thinking “What about 12 hours?” No.
Well, it’s not six. And it’s not ten. It’s not eight, either.
→ The optimum amount of sleep to get, on average, every night to live longest is seven hours of sleep.
But here’s the anomaly.
The study was conducted in Japan where people have different eating and workplace habits compared to the US or whichever part of the world where you reside.
So you don’t have to take 7 hours as the magic number on its own.
What’s important is to build awareness of how you feel the next morning after 6 , 7, 8, or 9 hours of sleep.
How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Do you feel energized or you cannot function without that caffeine hit?
Can you maintain laser-like focus for the first 3–4 hours at work?
These questions will help you to figure out your sweet spot.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been getting 6 hours of sleep for decades. He seems to be doing great.
Maybe he’s able to clock in a higher REM sleep within those 6 hours?
Below is my sleep data for 4 days –
This is what I know so far —
- The nights I eat a meal rich in high carbs, my deep sleep takes a hit regardless of the total hours of sleep.
- Sleeping with an eye-mask (creating total darkness) helps maximize deep sleep.
- Vitamin D3 and Magnesium supplements have helped improve my sleep by reducing the awake time.
In addition to the above, cutting on screen time an hour before bed and reducing mental chatter by switching to fiction reading are some systems I know works but haven’t quite made it a habit.
But you get the idea right?
Instead of debating about what is the optimal hours of sleep for health and longevity, how about shifting the question just a little bit.
What is the optimal hours of sleep that my body needs to function at its best?
Yeah, it’s a selfish question.
But the fact of the matter is — in order for you to thrive on this planet, you’ll have to find your personal sweet spot.
This is applicable to what is the optimal hours of sleep based on your lifestyle, eating patterns, and the work you do.
Take care of your sleep and you’ll be able to put in more high quality work and thus change the world for the good.
So, what is your sweet spot when it comes to sleep? Any systems and strategies that you use to optimize your sleep, please share them below.
Originally published at medium.com