No matter where you look, the first cause people point out to any health or psychological problems you may be having is the lack of sleep. They tell you that you’re sleeping late, not sleeping enough, or too much. The general advice that is offered is to get 8 hours Of sleep – no more, no less.
However, is it possible that this rule applies to everyone? Our bodies are different and have different needs. So, does everyone need 8 hours of sleep?
Quartz spoke to 5 experts about this.
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Let’s find out what they said.
DOES THE 8 HOUR SLEEP RULE APPLY TO EVERYONE?
While this might come as a surprise to most adults, all five experts said no when asked if this rule applies to everyone.
Hailey Meaklim, who is a psychologist, spoke about the origins of this belief –
“The saying that everybody needs eight hours of sleep is associated with the industrial revolution—eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”
“As with nearly every other human variable (such as height, where some of us are taller and others shorter), there are large individual differences in how much sleep each person needs,” said Gorica Micic, sleep expert.
Chelsie Rohrscheib, neuroscientist, said –
“Sleep achieves many critical brain and body maintenance functions that cannot be performed while we are awake. While humans need, on average, eight hours of sleep each night, the exact length of time it takes to accomplish these sleep functions is highly dictated by an individual’s genes.”
An important thing to note is that the time it takes for the body to accomplish the aforementioned sleep functions changes throughout their lives, as Stephanie Centofanti explains –
“It’s important to know sleep need changes throughout life; children and teens need much more sleep than adults, and as we reach older adulthood we may need slightly less sleep. The amount of sleep we need to be functioning at our best can also change depending on prior sleep history (a period of sleep deprivation, illness, or high stress may mean you need more sleep than usual for a little while).”
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Given the importance of sleep in an individual’s life, it is essential to know what your body needs. Crystal Grant, who is a sleep expert, explained how to figure out your body’s needs.
“One way to determine the amount of sleep that suits you is to pay close attention to how you feel (mood, energy levels, and overall health). If you are feeling sleepy during the day or needing an extra caffeine boost, you may need to increase the amount of sleep you are getting.”