A new study showed that a person taking 6 hours of sleep functions just as bad as someone who stayed awake.
Studies over the years have all declared different figures for the optimum number of hours of sleep we should be getting every night.
It’s often after a good solid eight hours of sleep we feel rested and rejuvenated. For some, six hours is enough for them to get on with their busy lives.
However, a sleep study undertaken by the University of Pennsylvania showed that a person sleeping for six hours a night (for two weeks) actually functions just as bad as someone who stayed awake two nights consecutively.
Quite possibly the worst part is that the participants who received only six hours sleep felt they were doing great.
The study used 48 adults and divided them up into groups, those who were allowed: 4, 6, or 8 nights sleep for fourteen days. There was an additional group who were deprived sleep for three days.
Unless they were asleep, the group were tested based on cognitive performance and were also asked a set of questions regarding their mood and whether they had any odd symptoms.
So why is 6 hours of sleep per night detrimental?
The group that was allowed to sleep for eight hours a night as you can imagine performed the best with the cognitive and reaction tests. Those who were sleeping for just four hours a night got worse as the days went on.
Interestingly the group who had 6 hours of sleep were doing fine until around day ten.
What is even more interesting is that by day ten, the six-hour sleepers were showing test results that were worse than the group who had not been allowed to sleep. As expected the four-hour sleepers performed badly but they hit their low a lot sooner than the six-hour sleepers.
The problem with these results is that the six-hour sleepers worryingly felt fine. They didn’t feel particularly sleepy and they didn’t realize how badly they were performing in the testing. Those who had no sleep noted their sleepiness increase as the days went on, as we would have expected.
The group that had only 6 hours of sleep didn’t notice a significant increase in their sleepiness. Which poses the question, if we only get 6 hours of sleep per night over a long period, are we in denial of our sleepiness?
How much sleep do you get per night?
We find it very difficult to know how much sleep we get per night. A study based on American statistics showed that 35% of Americans sleep under seven hours per night.
A different study showed that we tend to overestimate how much we sleep. So those Americans who felt they slept seven hours, might have in fact been sleeping for only six hours.
How do we get good nights sleep?
The best way to try and get a good night’s sleep is to try and have a consistent bedtime. It’s also important to put down your tablet and smartphone, at least 30 minutes before you plan on going to bed. You should limit your alcohol consumption as well as trying to undertake regular exercise.
If you try and do these four things it should help get you to sleep and ensuring you remain asleep. If your brain is working as if it’s been awake for 48 hours, it’s worth giving these tips a try.
By Holly W.