Most Americans as you can see sleep less than 8 hours a night – many a lot less. How about you?
Are you OK if you do sleep less than 8 hours a night? The quick answer is no you are not. Here is the research:-
Every two hours during the day, the researchers tested the subjects’ ability to sustain attention with what’s known as the psychomotor vigilance task, or P.V.T., considered a gold standard of sleepiness measures. During the P.V.T., the men and women sat in front of computer screens for 10-minute periods, pressing the space bar as soon as they saw a flash of numbers at random intervals. Even a half-second response delay suggests a lapse into sleepiness, known as a microsleep.
The P.V.T. is tedious but simple if you’ve been sleeping well. It measures the sustained attention that is vital for pilots, truck drivers, astronauts. Attention is also key for focusing during long meetings; for reading a paragraph just once, instead of five times; for driving a car. It takes the equivalent of only a two-second lapse for a driver to veer into oncoming traffic.
Not surprisingly, those who had eight hours of sleep hardly had any attention lapses and no cognitive declines over the 14 days of the study. What was interesting was that those in the four- and six-hour groups had P.V.T. results that declined steadily with almost each passing day. Though the four-hour subjects performed far worse, the six-hour group also consistently fell off-task. By the sixth day, 25 percent of the six-hour group was falling asleep at the computer. And at the end of the study, they were lapsing fives times as much as they did the first day.
The six-hour subjects fared no better — steadily declining over the two weeks — on a test of working memory in which they had to remember numbers and symbols and substitute one for the other. The same was true for an addition-subtraction task that measures speed and accuracy. All told, by the end of two weeks, the six-hour sleepers were as impaired as those who, in another Dinges study, had been sleep-deprived for 24 hours straight — the cognitive equivalent of being legally drunk.
So what can you do? Well first of all – know that you have a problem. Secondly here are some tips for a better night’s sleep.
In May I will be launching my project on how we can all take back control of our health. Sleep is of course a major part of this. For sleep is more than rest. It heals us and also is an active part of our cognitive and learning process. How often have you had a problem that you could not solve and yet woke up one morning with it solved?
Sleep is part of the 3 part continuum of of ideal settings for a healthy life.
- Diet – eat what we are evolved to eat
- Social – live in social settings and have the kinds of relationships that we are evolved to do best in
- Natural Environment – live as we are designed to be – this includes align with our circadian nature (this is where the right kind of sleep is key) and also be Active (exercise is not enoughy – we have to design our lives to moce around a lot – why I have a standing desk now)