8 Hours a night or DIE
We don't know our true baseline.
Many people live in a chronically sleep deprived state, the worst thing is that they think that it's normal. They get so used to how they feel from 6 hours of sleep and a lot of caffeine that this becomes their base line. It doesn't have to be this way, you can feel better, look better, be healthier by having more sleep.
You need sleep to learn.
A study was done where 2 groups had to learn a keyboard sequence. One group learnt in the day and was tested 12 hours later at night, the other group learnt in the night and was tested 12 hours later in the morning. So basically both groups had 8 hours in-between learning & testing but only one group slept during that time. Surprise surprise, the group that slept in-between were 20% quicker and 35% more accurate than the other group.
Different parts of sleep are responsible for different things.
A nice follow on point from above, they identified at which part of sleep was stimulating the area of the brain that was responsible for learning these motor skills. They found that this area of the brain was stimulated the most during the 7th and 8th hour of sleep! So you really need that 8 hours!
8 Hours makes all the difference in elite sport
A study was conducted on NBA players comparing a group who slept for 8 hours a night and a group that slept for under 7 hours a night. The results showed the 8 hours group played for 12% more minutes, 29% increase in points per minute, 2% increase in three-point percentage and 9% increase in free throw percentage. The less than 7 hour group? Well, they had a 37% increase in turnovers and 45% increase in fouls. For those of you unfamiliar with NBA terminology, i'm sure you get the picture - when competing at an elite level you need to get the full 8 hours if you want to get to the top of the foodchain.
Danger of Death
The final point is a more sombre one. This study looked at data from 7000 car crashes in the USA. The study highlights the tragic consequences of not having enough sleep. If you have less than 5 hours sleep you are three times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
If you have had less than 4 hours sleep, you are 11.5 times more likely to be involved in a car accident!!
The information in this article was largely taken from Matthew Walker who is one of the most famous and pioneering sleep scientists of today. His book is a must read.
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