- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
8 Hours Sleep: Is It Vital?
Sleeping Beauty: What's her Secret?
We all think that to lead a healthy lifestyle, getting 8 hours or more sleep is vital. But how do we know it is? Many studies have been carried out that actually show otherwise.
Some people are pysically incapable of sleeping for more than a few hours and after, say, 5 hours, they wake up, are wide awake and are totally unable to go back to sleep again. My Dad can only sleep for a few hours each night, no matter how tired he feels when he goes to bed, whereas I can sleep for England...I can never seem to get enough sleep - 8 hours just isn't enough! So why is this? Is it some form of insomnia? Is it to do with age? Well, the answer is that the appropriate amount of sleep differs for each individual.
There is no right or wrong amount of time to sleep. It all depends on your body. Of course, many other factors play a role in how much sleep your body needs. Your diet, for instance. If you eat highly nutritious foods, the likliness is that your body will gain more energy from those foods and will therefore require less sleep. But nothing is set in stone - you may still need 9 or 10 hours sleep to feel fully refreshed. They say that teenagers need more sleep than adults, so perhaps that explains why I am always tired and need to sleep for so long. And although my Dad can only sleep for a couple of hours each night, he has this amazing ability to fall asleep anytime and anywhere. And I mean anywhere! But me? The only place I can sleep is in my bed on a night...and perhaps in the car on a long journey. So it is just specific to each individual.
However, scientists once suggested that those who sleep for 8 hours their whole lives won't live as long as those who get less than 8 hours sleep each night. This seemed a very odd and unlikey hypothesis, and whether you choose to believe it is up to you, but it certainly gives us something to think about!
Scientists also suggests that people like my Dad, who have trouble getting through 8 hours sleep, may have a faulty gene. There is a gene for everything in humans - a gene for speech and language, a gene to say whether we'll get hairy fingers or not, a gene to determin hair colour and so on - so who's to say there's not one for how much sleep you require? It's every bit possible.
By Daniella Wood