As many of you know I have just been on holiday to the USA. I had a great time seeing new places as well as catching up with old friends. Despite travelling quite a bit I did manage to relax and take more rest than usual- mainly due to the heatwave in the south-western states.
Now I expected that I would sleep well and for longer than I do at home as I wasn’t using an alarm clock and didn’t have to meet any deadlines. For the whole 2 weeks I didn’t sleep longer than 6 hours, although my son slept better and for much longer than he usually did. He is 16 years old and it is important for teenagers to get 9-10 hours sleep as they undergo sleep-triggered hormonal changes. They generally get less sleep than this however, as their body clocks shift resulting in them not being tired until midnight, but they have to get up for school as early as 6 or 7 am.
According to sleep expert,Dr Neil Stanley, the amount we sleep is genetically determined, as is whether we’re more early bird than night owl. ‘Anything between 3 and 11 hours is normal, so if you’re a six-hours-a-night person, staying in bed for longer is a waste of time,’ he says.
So I felt that I had conducted a 2 week experiment on my natural sleep requirements and discovered that I actually only need 6 hours. If you are going on holiday soon or even if the school holidays mean you don’t have to set an alarm, try this for a couple of weeks. You may then discover that you don’t need to worry about getting only 5, 6 or 7 hours sleep. You might be interested to know that pythons sleep on average 18 hours a day and giraffes a mere 2 hours, so there is a huge range in the natural world.
Jim Horne from Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre has a simple answer though: ‘The amount of sleep we require is what we need not to be sleepy in the daytime.’
I’d like to know what experiences you have had on less than 8 hours a night sleep. You can comment below.