Blog Menu

Why 8 hours of sleep are not enough, Part I


For something we spend a third of our lives in (if we are lucky, of course), sleep is a phenomenon we know very little about. Sleep is a relatively recent discovery. Scientists began to explore it only 70 years ago.

Anyone who was awake at night, thinking about the complexity of the universe, is ready to testify that sleep can be quite difficult to achieve. It includes a complex network of biological and neurological processes, all of which can be disturbed by something as simple as the snoring of your partner or a cup of coffee too late in the day. There are many, many misconceptions about sleeping: that you can catch up on the weekend for the lost hours of sleep during the week. That you can only spend four hours sleeping at night. That if you drink some whiskey before bedtime, it will help you sleep better. And even, if you eat cheese before sleep, you will have nightmares.

Here are the topics that I will cover in this article:

• Why 8.5 hours of sleep is the new 8 hours

• the genes that affect why you are an early bird or a night owl

• why you need to sleep instead of meditating

• how deprivation of sleep can be a way to fight depression

• why sleep should be part of the new rights of the working person

• Tips for better nighttime rest


Why do we need sleep?

Every organism on the planet sleeps in some way or another, even the fly. What makes sleep so important to our well-being lies in three main reasons: to save our energy, to help the cells recover and to help us to process and understand our environment. The synaptic homeostasis hypothesis is this idea that we make all these connections throughout the day with the world around us. Many years ago it was like: "Do not walk there because the lions have come." Now, it’s rather: "What did Elena tell me in the office?" These impressive connections we make during the day lead to greater activation of the neurons in our brains. Then at night, while we sleep, there is a process of regulation where things that are not relevant to our survival go far back, and the things that are most important to survival are rising to the top. What deep sleep does is neural processing, and what REM sleep and light sleep are doing is to integrate this into your long-term personality and understanding of the world.

What other differences exist between deep sleep and REM sleep?

Many people do not understand that these are two very different processes. They probably know that the stages of sleep are: light sleep, deep sleep, light sleep, REM and repeat. As you sleep more, you get less and less deep sleep, and if you sleep less, you get more deep sleep. During a deep sleep, you get these long brain waves, which are called delta waves, but during REM, your brain waves actually function much like when you are awake. Your body is also paralyzed during REM - this is a very noticeable physiological difference. You also lose thermoregulation, which means that if it's hot in the room, your body is also hot.

 Deep sleep is more important than REM sleep. Why?

This is an endless debate, but the truth is that both are important. Deep sleep is very important, but REM sleep is also important. We know that human growth hormone, cell recovery and the ability to process new information are associated with deep sleep. REM sleep is primarily for information processing.


About workaholics: do we really need that much sleep?

According to recent studies, 8.5 hours of sleep are the new 8 hours. To get a healthy eight-hour sleep, which is the amount that many people need, you have to be in bed for 8.5 hours. People who sleep well spend more than 90% of their time in bed asleep, so if you are in bed for 8 hours and you are a healthy sleeping person, you actually sleep for only about 7.2 hours. Mentioning this, some people do not need a lot of sleep: A test can be made to see if there is a genetic predisposition to a short sleep. This is rare, although, as a whole, people do not get enough sleep. Half an hour less sleep than you need adds up for a whole week. To understand how much sleep you need, it is advisable when you go on a holiday to try to stick to your normal bedtime and then see what time you wake up. Without any stress factors or time to get up, you'll just find your natural pattern and it's probably the amount of sleep you need. Maybe you usually get about 6-7 hours of sleep at night and feel good. But is this because it has become your normal working regimen, and you could actually work on a higher level? Exactly. It's like the fish and the aquarium: the fish does not know it's in an aquarium, yet it's in the water. Similarly, when you are deprived of sleep, research shows that you are not really accurate in your judgment, whether you are missing sleep. Much of this is related to the stress in our environment and the external need to work all the time. That is what leads to the fact that we sleep so badly today

How does the workplace affect sleep?

We often have to work to a point where we are not sleeping, and we feel a physical deterioration of our health and well-being. People should be able to sleep the same way they receive health care. This also means making our work environment more comfortable for sleep. For optimal performance we need about 8 hours of sleep, right? But this should not be just one time. Perhaps you will get a little less than that at night, and then you will sleep for 20-30 minutes in the afternoon. Siesta exists for a reason! People often try to overcome that with coffee and other stimulating drinks, but listening to their natural biological rhythm in the afternoon can be very good and beneficial.

Let's talk more about the circadian rhythm. What is it and why is it responsible for our fatigue in the afternoon?

We have evolved from ocean bacteria that can distinguish the sunlight from the darkness - that is, what has completed the formation of the human eye. This means that each organism reacts to the circadian rhythm, which is largely dictated by the sunlight. The photoreceptors in our eyes collect sunlight that controls the release of melatonin and all other neurotransmitters that affect energy levels throughout the day. The peak moment is waking up in the morning. After lunch, you usually have a jump in the glucose level, especially if lunch was heavy, like a fat burger. This glucose jump, combined with a circadian downturn, results in a period of fatigue between 14:00 and 16:00. Then there is another jump just before dinner, and then you will start to get tired as you approach bedtime. This represents your 24-hour circadian rhythm in general terms. There is also the term called "chronobiology". In fact, you have genes that dictate whether you are an early bird or a night owl.

Expect more interesting information in the second part of the article.


« Back to all news