May 16, 2013
The Myth Of The Eight-Hour Sleep Schedule
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t sleep a lot. Recently, I pushed myself too hard for the last couple of months, only averaging two hours sleep a night, sometimes four, and this caught up to me (I will spare you the dramatics). I knew what I was doing (working so much and sleeping so little) wasn’t healthy; I just didn’t slow down enough to realize the true harm I was causing myself. Needless to say, I learned my lesson. I’m happy to report that I am now getting my healthy dose of five to six hours of sleep a night.
Now, there is a chance that a large number of you who read my last sentence will think, “My gawd, you hot sexy man, you are going to end up back in the ER, you need eight hours of sleep!” This is a myth and it’s a rule painted with a very large brush.
Each one of us is different, like beautiful snowflakes; well, some might be more like slushy, melted snow, but we are all different nonetheless. One person may need nine hours of sleep, another person may not need even eight hours; it depends on our chemical makeup.
So, how do we know how much we need as individuals? Well, we can figure this out by my favorite scientific method, common sense. I am not a doctor, nor have I ever played a doctor (okay once but that’s a private story shared between me, my partner at the time, and the neighboring guests at the Motel 6), but it doesn’t take a doctor to figure out how you feel throughout the day.
First, it’s important to make sure you get consistent sleep. Falling asleep and waking up roughly around the same time, pairing this cycle with a consistent diet.
Once you have this pattern going, it’s fairly easy to tell how much sleep you need. If you are averaging let’s say 8-10 hours and you are still tired throughout the day, then you are getting too much sleep. If you are averaging 5-7 hours a night and you are still tired throughout the day, then you aren’t getting enough sleep. It’s also important to note, that women on average need more sleep than men. So men, use this time to play video games or to watch sports, or to just enjoy the peace and quiet.
When I average five hours of sleep I generally feel alert and awake throughout most of the day. Sometimes I take a nap, but no more than 20 minutes, anything exceeding that amount will only make you more tired. But all in all, I feel alert. When I get less than that amount, regardless of my caffeine intake, I drag ass throughout the day.
Similar to too little sleep a night, too much sleep (on a regular basis) can shorten one’s lifespan by causing health risks including stroke. Now, does this mean that sleeping in every Saturday morning is going to kill you nine to fivers? Yes! Okay no. But, doing this on a regular basis will eventually catch up to you. The key is consistent sleep, paired with a consistent diet.
Truth is, because of my five to six hours of sleep a night, I am living more than those who are sleeping more, because I’m awake and actually cognitive of living. And because I love life, this is a good thing. Now, if you have to sleep more to feel healthy, then that’s the amount you need. But, if you are sleeping more and still feel tired, not only are you feeling like this for no good reason, you are missing out on living life more, and you are increasing risk to your health.
I do many different things, and I’m very driven and enjoy all the hats I wear in all the arenas I’m plugged into. Some might call this a workaholic, but I have personally realized the importance of consistent sleep. All too often in the hustle and bustle competitive world, we lose focus on what’s most important; us. We need to take better care of us. So, get some sleep, kick ass at work, and please remember folks, be nice to one another. Yeah, that last sentence has nothing to do with sleep, it’s just the right thing to do and it’s not done enough.
Image Credit: Photos.com