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How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Posted December 14, 2011 8:04 AM

Are you one of those people who needs eight or nine hours of sleep a night to function the next day? Are you "early to bed, early to rise"? Do you instead take after Thomas Edison, who rarely got more than three hours sleep, or Margaret Thatcher, who governed the UK on four? Researchers are finding genetic evidence that debunks the notion that everyone needs the same amount of sleep. How much do you sleep? If you are not a sleeper, how do you take advantage of that extra free time? If you need a lot of sleep, what would you do with the time if you could get by with less?

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#1

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/14/2011 5:56 PM

4-6 hours. Once in a while I crash out for 12.

My extra time ? Mainly logging into CR4 and sifting paperwork. I can get far more done in the twilight hours because the phone isn't ringing, and I have no distractions.

Not sure what others think, but it seems to be hereditary. None of my family sleep much.

Early morning is the best time to be up. All is quiet, and if you take a stroll you'll see stuff you never imagined; Urban critters, sunrises. It's worth setting your alarm clock (if you need one) early just to get out and see stuff.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 2:22 AM

4-6 and the once in a well earned while, the crash for 12 is how my clock works. Was always an early riser 'cept when hung over but thankfully I've become less thirsty. I get most done when when others are on their off time because I think and get things done better without interruptions. Too much sleep (overcharge), seems to let my battery run down faster. Early morning sunrises are special to me & and often outmatch the most beautiful sunsets as they seem to me to symbolize a fresh 'beginning'. But don't throw away sunsets, they're almost as good, especially after a 'long' day.

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#4
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 7:25 AM

I wish Ethervile were in the Namib - I'd have to kill you for disturbing my early morning walk of serenity, but we think/act much alike. Watching the sun come up is awesome. .

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#3

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 6:59 AM

The amount of sleep I require varies. I give 'er until the tank is empty. Most nights I get 6 to 7. Weekends I might sleep in till 8am, but I'm usually awake by then and waiting for my wife to wake up.

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#6
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 8:00 AM

Of the North? does the sun switch off for a couple of months?

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#7
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 8:32 AM

I'm not THAT far north. We get about 8 hours of daylight here at this time of year. Another week and the days start getting longer. Only 4 more months and things will start warming up too! Woot! TIPPITY TAPPITY TIPPITY TAPPITY

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#9
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 8:40 AM

It always sunshine & summer here in Namibia.

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#11
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 8:48 AM

Darkness by 6pm, yes? Frickin' hot, yes?

I like the change of seasons. I also like having daylight from 5am until 10pm in the summer.

Not better, just different.

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#5

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 7:56 AM

I'm typically in the 4-6 plus an odd 12 camp as well, but I've been around 2-3 for the past four days this week due to some extenuating circumstances. Things are starting to get interesting. This morning, I was so asleep and confused when my alarm clock went off that I could not figure out how to turn it off. So I unplugged it. When I got out of the shower and saw what I had done I got a good chuckle. Then I failed to rinse my coffee travel completely and was able to enjoy some nice soapy coffee during my commute in to work. Let's hope I don't need to make any big decisions today.

Thomas Edison, I salute you!

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#8
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 8:37 AM

Do you sometimes get a feeling of hyper-awareness? I get that feeling after a couple of days of less-than-my-usual sleep. Later that day I crash. And crash hard.

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#12
In reply to #8

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 9:35 AM

I get that only if there is something important I need to be doing that day. The adrenaline carries me through with Superman like alertness, and then boom, the lights go out in my brain.

I had a job interview once a day after I received news that a family member had passed away. I got literally no sleep that night, then drove four hours to the interview. I aced it, but then was almost physically incapable of driving home.

Sleep deprivation always intrigues me, even when I am the subject. It does some odd things to your mental state and memory.

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#19
In reply to #12

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 2:52 PM

I wonder if anyone has ever done a correlation between: people who were sleep deprived for very long periods of time, and, Alzheimer's in later life. I'm thinking of a few prime ministers and probably presidents too who survived on 4 hours a night all the time they were in office, but, "lost it" after they retired.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 10:09 PM

How would you test that? What would be your control samples and how would you do double blind testing?

Just curious.

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#24
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/19/2011 6:47 AM

I think you'd have to start with anecdotal stuff (questionnaire for relatives of sufferers). Then work out a more formal approach if there seemed to be anything in it.

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#25
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/19/2011 11:36 PM

Except that anectodal reports are not even remotely scientific. Heck, anecdotal reports support a million nutty beliefs like those that are held by people that believe that acupuncture works, or that magnetic bracelets cure arthritis. There is a reason why "hearsay" is not admissable in court!

If you look for an end result....say "do my alzheimer's patients ever suffer from insomnia", you will get a huge number of positive hits. No doubt they did. They also ate pickles and maybe were drivers, or watched TV. However, the next question to ask would be....Is there a real cause and effect relationship here, or is it merely a correlational study.

The hunt for the cause of the "thalidomide" babies is an excellent case study, and I strongly recommend researching how they started with the known result and then looked for causes and correlations. They had to eliminate and control hundreds of variables.

I think the causes of senile dementia have been heavily researched by now.

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#26
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/20/2011 10:31 AM

I beg to differ....(although I concur with the rest of your post)

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#10

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 8:44 AM

4-6 with a 12 on Saturday. Hmm, me too. Until now I felt guilty about my Saturday indulgence. There may be something to this. . .

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#13

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 10:40 AM

4-6 Studies show those who sleep less, live longer. They also get more done. I get a lot of computer work done in early morning and late evening.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 11:46 AM

That's interesting. I had not heard about sleep studies related to lifespan. But I am aware of studies showing calorie "restricted" diets (some would say borderline starvation) correlated with longer life -- at least in animal studies. So the lesson is eat less and sleep less, I guess. (Although, I think sleep's effectiveness also depends on the time of day it is taken -- circadian rhythm influence.)

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 11:48 AM

... although, if much of your "extra" time is spent thinking about food and wanting to just lay down... the extra time isn't so useful.

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#16
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 12:37 PM

Someone once said: prolong your life, cultivate boredom.

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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 1:37 PM
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#18

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 2:28 PM

I don't have a clue how much sleep I need...I only know how much I get. Typically it's between 6 and 7 hours, sometimes as few as 4. My toddler gets up at 5:30 EVERY day (weekends included), and I must say I've fallen in love with the early mornings. Three times a week, I'll get up at 4:30 and take a run - it's nice to get out before anyone's awake.

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#21

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/15/2011 10:11 PM

I crash out at one and wake up at 8:30. Start work in the shop at 10 sharp. Can't stand sun rises. Hateful things.

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#22

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/16/2011 7:19 AM

I spent many years in the "1-3, then crash for 20, once a month" camp, then moved into the "2-4, and a 15 minute catnap every day camp", before I had to quit drinking caffeine. But I find now that I'm in my late 50's that my critical thinking powers are greatly diminished without 6-7 hours a night. Less than that, and the cat starves during my lengthening naps, but my brain seems to need more down time than my body does. Still love those early hours when no one else is around (on on the roads, during my hour long commute) though.

And that of-late losing my critical thinking clarity issue makes me wonder if, in the good old days, I was really as good as I thought I was.

Maybe none of us are EVER really as young good as we think we are, eh?

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#23
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/16/2011 11:58 AM

My Father in law is in his late sixties (He has 17yrs on me) & he has more 'go' than I. That man has the most incredible brain when it comes to applying knowledge to practice in just about any field. He lives 250 km's from us, I can call him anytime to pick his grey matter for on anything from personal to tech, he is always awake!!! I sometimes seriously think that this is the kind of fellow that will simply just keel over one day because the battery must go flat sometime. I hope not. Maybe he has figured out how to make atomic batteries for his klicker.

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#27

Maybe it actually varies.

12/21/2011 3:44 PM

I'm not the best case study, because I don't sleep well. But:

Back when I was in my 20s I was out on a summer trip once - in the middle of Utah - and I slept for just one hour one night and was perfectly fine the next day.

When I was younger I didn't like to get up because I didn't like school that much, but one day I got up very early feeling totally refreshed.

For much of my adult life I did about 6 hours, but as I got older this began to wear on me emotionally. When I quit that work and slept more I felt a lot better.

So I don't know that this is something that is set in concrete for a body. There are a lot of factors that could increase or decrease the need for sleep. They could include body health factors and mental health factors. They could also include environmental factors.

But I think it's interesting to note that most people who answered this tend to "skimp" on sleep compared to what is considered "average." I wonder where the "average" number really comes from. I don't think there is any biologically essential reason for periodically resting the body to the extent we do when we sleep. That makes me think that it might be something imposed on our bodies by the planetary cycle, and be more of a habit than a necessity.

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: Maybe it actually varies.

12/21/2011 7:34 PM

A most interesting post. The last part minds me of eating habits; People tend to eat 3 meals a day, and that seems to be more because of social dictat than need.

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#29

Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/22/2011 7:43 AM

Sorry for a late answer... I must have been sleeping when this blog entry was posted.

I'm clearly one of those needing eight hours a night. Maybe 7, then I can recover with 9 hours on Saturday and Sunday.

I certainly could do a lot with extra time. And I tried to "learn" sleeping less. At 65 it seems it's not going to change anymore. I believe our brain must have some time at low speed processing to get rid of toxins produced at normal speed. This process may take more or less time for an individual, depending on how quick your "rinsing" system works. This would also be a cause for living shorter or longer. So it would be "Live more and sleep less", not the other way round.

brgds

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#30
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Re: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

12/22/2011 1:45 PM

Heck, it's like that film - you never need to say sorry around here. A person sleeps as they need.

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