It’s about 2:30 am as I write this. My sleep tracker says ‘Try not to stay awake at night’ right now. The average amount of ‘sleeping’ time that I’ve been getting is between 6 and 7 hours a day (not night, day. sigh!)
If you’ve read about the tragic passing away of Ranjan Das a few years ago, you see how important a role sleep actually plays. Lack of sleep for extended periods isn’t something you would want to make a habit of. Even an overly active health freak couldn’t cope with having limited hours of sleep.
Also read: How I Run 3 Multi-Million-Dollar Companies While Getting 9.25 Hours of Sleep a Night by Neil Patel.
The problem is, we do not approach sleep the same way we might approach food and water. You could always end up over-eating and this applies to sleep as well. To quote a popular article from 2002, “Wake up! It won’t kill you, but staying in bed just might”. Those few extra minutes of sleep we crave, might be doing more harm than we think.
Why is sleep essential?
Well for one, sleep gives the much needed rest that our bodily systems require. Just like any automobile that needs constant maintenance, our bodies too require that day-to-day care. Going with 4 hours or less sleep for a couple of days in a week is okay. But, when that goes on for a few weeks or months together is when our bodies start reacting. These reactions may surface as mild irritations – a mild headache, inability to hold concentration. Over time however, this leads to many complications that could lead to certain death. Ouch!
Ted-Ed: What would happen if you didn’t sleep. Source: YouTube
How much is too much?
In a study conducted in the 1980s, of about 1.1 million people, it was found that there were relatively small risks related to excess sleep. The risk of death went up by 12% for those who slept 8 hours, 17% for those who slept 9 hours and 34% for those who slept 10 hours. For 10-hour sleepers, the increased risk of death was the same as that for moderate obesity. The study concluded that 7 hours of sleep a day is what one should aim for.
Mental note: Never set an alarm earlier than 7 hours from when you go to sleep.
Should you be worried?
As long as you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, you are safe. If this is something your schedule cannot accommodate, then try grouping some activities throughout the day and give yourself more time to sleep. Only you are in control of the choices you make everyday and so, make an effort to fall into a rhythm and you will find time for a lot of things in life. Do not in any way get into the habit of taking sleeping pills. They do more harm in the long run than any short-term benefit that you find in them.
If you are someone who finds it difficult to fall asleep, please read my article 7 tips to help you fall asleep faster. Some of these tips have helped me with my inability to fall asleep at times.
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