New finding: 6 hours of sleep is as bad as no sleep at all
Many people ask themselves how much sleep is actually sufficient or best for one. This is a question that is not so easy to answer. In principle, sleep cannot be lumpen ensamed and must therefore be considered individually in each person.
How much sleep is too little?
Prof. Ingo Fietze is Chief Physician for Internal Medicine and as Sleep Researcher Head of the Interdisciplinary Sleep Medicine Center at the Charité in Berlin. In an interview with Wirtschafts Woche, he differentiates between three types of sleepers.
“The normal sleeper needs between seven and eight hours of sleep. This is the so-called feel-good sleep, which is the healthiest. In addition, there are people who sleep less than six hours and are considered short sleepers. A short sleeper sleeps between five and six hours, whether during the week or on weekends. He is not tired during the day and does not take a nap at noon. However, this is more of an exception type.
Then there are late risers who need between nine and nine and a half hours of sleep.”
This division into different types of sleep makes it clear that there is not one rule of thumb for perfect sleep. Everyone should first be aware of which of the three categories they fall into. Only if you are aware of this, you can adjust to your own type of sleep and plan appropriate sleep times.
Study shows effects of too little sleep
A study by Harvard, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia was published in the journal Sleep. The study revolves around the question of what effect the number of hours of sleep per night has on humans.
The result is appalling! Subjects who slept for six hours performed just as badly after ten days in the laboratory as people who did not sleep at all for two nights.
Lack of sleep causes increased attention deficit
The study monitored the sleep patterns of 48 adults over two weeks. Participants slept for four, six or eight hours during the study.
The result of the study: People who only sleep six hours a night performed just as badly in the test questions after ten days as people who had not slept at all for two nights.
The fact that lack of sleep affects our concentration and performance is nothing new in itself. However, it has not yet been assumed that the number of hours slept can also have individual effects.
Why six hours of sleep is worse than no sleep
First of all, it should be said that the subjects performed just as badly with only four hours of sleep. The problem with the six-hour sleepers was much more that they completely misjudged their own sleep and physical performance.
People without any sleep or with only four hours of sleep showed obvious signs of increased sleep deficit, and so did the researchers. However, the six hours of sleepers did not feel particularly tired or less concentrated. However, they did just as well in the test questions after 10 days.
So perhaps the problem is that at six hours we can hardly differentiate whether we have slept sufficiently or poorly. In the long run, this is dangerous, because there is a risk of serious secondary illnesses in the event of an unrecognized sleep deficit. Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure are just one of many examples.
Better sleep: Easier said than done
Figuring out how to get enough sleep consistently is a hard nut to crack. The same advice that experts have been giving for decades is probably a good starting point: care for a consistent bedtime; do not look at electronic screens for at least 30 minutes before bedtime; limit alcohol consumption (alcohol makes many people sleepy, but can also reduce the quality and duration of sleep); and move sufficiently.
Another piece of advice that you don’t like to hear, but which is equally valid, is to lose weight. Sleep apnea and obesity have a very high correlation, according to the National Sleep Foundation. In addition, obese workers are already suffering from more lost productive time than normal and overweight workers.
Other causes of sleep problems include physical, neurological and psychological problems. Even stress and worry can negatively affect sleep. Lack of sleep is an official health problem, and for good reason. Diet, exercise, mental and physical health affect our ability to sleep and in turn our ability to do our best.
Fixing poor sleeping habits to get enough sleep is easier said than done.
What to do about bad sleep?
Together with a preventiveist and sleep expert, we have put together a series of tips and tricks. I like to take a look at them and try to implement them step by step. Improving sleep takes time and training. Patience is therefore an important feature here. Don’t expect any improvement overnight.
If you don’t want to rely solely on the tips, you can also take a sleep tracker for help. There are sleep trackers like the CIRCUL Sleep Tracker Ringthat continuously measure the pulse and oxygen saturation.
Continuous measurement is important to obtain accurate measurement results. Snapshots of how you get them from smartwatches are only partially helpful. It is only through continuous measurement that a complete picture of sleep can be seen.
Implement the tips and tricks against bad sleep and measure your sleep in parallel with a sleep tracker. Watch your values improve. Here is the point: improvements will not be felt overnight. With a little patience and discipline, however, you will soon feel noticeable results and get out of bed more easily in the morning.
The sleep tracker will also help you detect abnormalities such as breath dropouts. These may indicate severe sleep problems or even sleep disturbances. In such a case, I strongly recommend that you see a doctor!
Those who sleep badly or too little should not simply accept this. And certainly not the problem should be compensated with heavy sleeping pills or similar aids. A healthier lifestyle can make a difference. Not only your sleep is positively influenced, but your whole body and mind. Physical and mental health, on the other hand, have a positive effect on the most diverse areas of your life. Your job, relationships, even your sex life will be improved.
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