What’s the minimum hours of sleep we need?

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Experts believe that a daily average of 6 hours is the minimum amount of sleep duration needed in order to support the optimal level of health in adults. A new study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine analyzed the results of sleeping for less than six hours for eight consecutive days.

Soomi Lee, head author from the School of Gerontology of the University of South Florida, found that the biggest spike in the symptoms occurred after a loss of only one night’s sleep. The number of mental and physical symptoms worsened gradually and peaked on the third day. At this point, pieces of research show that human body gets used to a relatively recurrent loss of sleep; nevertheless, all these facts changed on the sixth day once the participants reported that the severity of the physical symptoms got terrible.

Lee said “Many of us believe that we can pay our debt of sleep at the weekends, and that we can be more productive on the week days.” “However, the results of this study indicate that the loss of only one night’s sleep could significantly deteriorate our daily functioning.”

Approximately 2000 relatively healthy and well-educated middle-aged adults participated in the study, and at least 42% of the participants experienced sleeplessness for at least one night and slept 1½ (one and a half hours) less than their typical routines. By recording their mental and physical behaviors in a diary for eight days in a row, they enabled the researchers to analyze how loss of sleep led to wear and tear in the body.

The participants reported an increase in the feelings of anger, stress, loneliness, short-temper and disappointment as a result of the loss of sleep. Moreover, they experienced more physical symptoms, such as upper respiratory tract problems, pain, stomach-intestine problems, and other health problems. These negative feelings and symptoms gradually increased throughout the consecutive days with loss of sleep, and they did not return to the initial levels unless there was a night’s sleep of more than six hours.

Nearly one third of American adults sleep less than six hours per night. Lee says that it becomes increasingly more difficult for our body to fully get rid of the lack of sleep as this situation becomes a habit, and that the vicious cycle continues with the worsening of the daily well-being, which may affect the individual in professional terms.

In a previous piece of research conducted by Lee, however, it is stated that the job performance can be affected by losing only 16 minutes of sleep. The previous results also indicate that a small amount of sleep loss could reduce the daily awareness, which is a critical pillar for us to manage stress and sustain healthy routines. Lee says that the best way to keep a strong daily routine is to sleep more than six hours a day.

– Drama llama or sleep deprived? New study uncovers how consistent sleep loss impacts mental and physical well-being. University of South Florida