Recent studies are finding that the amount of time people need for sleep is as different as people are...you may not need the recommended 8 hours. Moreover, short sleepers may be healthier and happier, living longer lives.
(Time) “Although the federal government recommends that Americans sleep seven or more hours per night for optimal health and functioning, new research is challenging the assumption that sleep is a one-size-fits-all phenomenon. Scientists have found that our internal body clocks vary so greatly that they could form the next frontiers of personalized medicine. By listening more closely to the ticking of our internal clocks, researchers expect to uncover novel ways to help everybody get more out of their sleeping and waking lives.
HUMAN SLEEP is largely a mystery. We know it’s important; getting too little is linked to heightened risk for metabolic disorders, Type 2 diabetes, psychiatric disorders, autoimmune disease, neurodegeneration and many types of cancer. ‘It’s probably true that bad sleep leads to increased risks of virtually every disorder,’ says Dr. Louis Ptacek, a neurology professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). But details about what’s actually going on during shut-eye are sparse.
‘We know almost nothing about sleep and how it’s regulated,’says Ptacek.
Some people are morning larks, rising early, and others are night owls, who like staying up late. Those patterns are regulated by the body’s circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal clock. People can manipulate their circadian rhythm through all kinds of external factors, like setting an alarm clock or exposing themselves to light. But the ideal sleep duration has long been thought to be universal. ‘There are many people who think everyone needs eight to eight and a half hours of sleep per night and there will be health consequences if they don’t get it,’ says Ptacek. ‘But that’s as crazy as saying everybody has to be 5 ft. 10 in. tall. It’s just not true.’”
There may be efficiency in sleep. Short sleepers may live longer and be more energetic.
Click here to read more from Time.