You Don’t Need as Much Sleep as You Think If You Can Do This

Hey, you’re burning daylight. Time to get up.

I’m just sharing a few factoids and thoughts about sleep. The answer to the clickbait headline is Power Naps, in the event you don’t want to read further.

How much sleep do we really need? Everyone says something different. Some say we need eight. Some argue for less. In college there were nights we didn’t sleep at all. states that our needs vary, from seven to nine hours a night, and more if young. This same site makes the following observation:

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to function well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.

To be honest, I’ve performed no real studies on the matter, but based on a lifetime of experience, my sleep requirements are significantly different from those of my wife. Until recently, between six and seven hours was a healthy night’s sleep for me. For Susie, eight to nine seemed a minimum requirement to feel good the next day.

When morning arrives I usually wake up alert and rarin’ to go. Being a writer, those quiet early morning hours were eagerly embraced. Susie, on the other hand, would be up but not ready for human interaction for still another hour.

The point here is that we are all different, our metabolisms vary. Because of my experience, limited as it is, I would say that any attempt to define what’s “correct” is bound to fail as a result. The right amount of sleep is “what is right for you.”

Even so, I still think we can get by on less sleep when we need to, if we can do this one thing: Power Naps.

According to the ideal length of a power nap is 20 minutes, but in my experience if I can rest for even ten minutes and successfully fall asleep into the realm of deep sleep for a minute or two, I’m powered up and re-charged.

Again, I have no scientific data, but I still believe it. To borrow a quip from Colin Powell: “It worked for me.”

My mother was an RN who worked various shifts during her lifetime. When I was finishing college I had a security guard job for a couple years, second and third night shift work. Some nights I even worked both shifts. I would have to sleep during the day and my mom told me that even if you don’t fall asleep, if you close your eyes and “rest” you will indeed re-charge.

I believed her and discovered that, yes, it works. It’s better to find that deep sleep sweet spot, but even if you fail to completely drop off, don’t just get up and mope around. Close your eyes and rest. This was really good advice.

One more secret from a lifetime of experience. If you have a thought that’s niggling in your brain and you simply can’t stop dwelling on it, take a moment to write it down and let it go. It will fly away and allow you to rest in peace.

I should add here that there may be physiological or psychological factors that either keep you from sleeping or cause you to always be tired. Depression can weigh one down and make a person weary. Thyroid conditions, anemia, high blood pressure or low blood pressure and a heart condition can all be factors in why you are overtired all the time or unable to sleep. If your situation is chronic you may wish to see if there is an underlying cause.

The other day I was visiting with someone who asked me out-of-the-blue, “Do you take naps?” I said yes, of course. Especially now that I’m an old man. Which is a setup for this perfect summing up: “A day without a nap is like a cupcake without frosting.” — Terri Guillemets

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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