Sleep – The Minimum
Like many people who find themselves driven toward a goal, I find myself short of sleep. My problem is a late bed time and an early alarm. The question I keep asking myself is how much is too little? There are varying answers depending upon whether you are asking how much do you need to not feel tired or how much do you need to not end up hiding behind your couch because “they” are coming to get you. The answer to the first question rests solidly in the 7 to 8 hour range. The answer to the second question is much less than you think.
The human body is a remarkable creation and as it turns out very adaptable to a wide range of circumstances. I read somewhere that NASA has the astronauts on the Space Station sleep just 20 minutes at a time due to the round the clock needs of various experiments and operational issues of the station itself. Apparently after a completely nightmarish three to four days, the 20 minute thing ends up working just fine as the astronauts fall asleep almost instantly and go quickly into REM sleep. Of course, nobody’s talking about 20 minutes every 24 hours, more like 20 minutes every hour or two. Obviously this is not something I’m looking at implementing.
Still, if you are squeezing in 7-ish hours, you are probably good. However, I just finished reading the book You: The Owner’s Manual which is a collection of medical wisdom from a couple of doctors focused primarily on how your habits and choices affect the length of your lifespan. For maximum lifespan, you need at least 7 hours a night. I’m not sure it’s wise to try and run your body on “at least” so I figure 7+ is the way to go.
Tonight? No chance it’s already too late even if I fell asleep instantly. Tomorrow? You bet; in bed when the wife goes.