You can survive on six hours of sleep but that would not be good for your long-term health. Getting less sleep can make you drowsy, which can increase your risk of sleep deprivation and sleep disorders, resulting in falls and road accidents.
Doctors recommend that most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep to maintain positive mental health. Sleeping for six hours or less can have many short-term and long-term detrimental effects on your body.
The table below shows recommendations provided by the National Sleep Foundation regarding sleep needs per age range.
|Age range||Recommended hours of sleep|
|Zero to three months||14 to 17 hours|
|4 to 11 months||12 to 15 hours|
|One to two years||11 to 14 hours|
|Three to five years||10 to 13 hours|
|6 to 13 years||9 to 11 hours|
|14 to 17 years||8 to 10 hours|
|18 to 25 years||Seven to nine hours|
|26 to 64 years||Seven to nine hours|
|65 years or older||Seven to nine hours|
What happens if you get only six hours of sleep?
If you’re getting only six hours of sleep each night, you are likely to be sleep deprived, which may result in the following sleep deprivation symptoms:
- Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.
- Feeling drowsy or lazy in the afternoon.
- Dozing off in the middle of meetings.
- Falling asleep while watching TV.
- Feeling the need to sleep for long hours on weekends.
Not getting an adequate amount of sleep increases your risk of health issues, such as:
What are the benefits of getting adequate hours of sleep?
Getting seven to eight hours of undisturbed sleep ensures that you spend enough time in different stages of the sleep cycle.
The most important parts of the cycle are deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Deep sleep is the time when the body builds up energy for the day ahead, and REM sleep is the memory-boosting part of the sleep.
When you get enough sleep, you enjoy multiple benefits, including:
Improved focus and memory:
- Sleep plays an important role in storing and remembering things. Without enough sleep, you have difficulty focusing on things and recalling them later.
- Your body needs time to process its emotions, and sleep is the best way through which your body does that. A good sleep schedule ensures you stay in positive mental health throughout the day ahead.
A healthy heart:
- Poor sleep results in high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart diseases.
- A good amount of sleep reduces your burden of stress, which in turn lowers your odds of developing heart problems.
Boost of energy:
- If you want to restore your energy for the next day of endurance sports, such as running, swimming and biking, sleep for seven to eight hours every day.
- Sleep provides you with a boost of energy to keep moving the next day.
A well-functioning immune system:
- There is a strong association between sleep and immunity, such that when you get adequate sleep, your immune cells function smoothly to prevent you from falling sick.
How to ensure a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep may be a daunting task for some people. If you struggle to fall asleep frequently, here are a few tips that you should follow:
- Stay away from blue light before bedtime: Do not use electronics that emit blue light, such as TVs and smartphones, one hour before bedtime. Digital screens can interfere with your ability to sleep.
- Avoid having dinner close to bedtime: Make sure that you have your dinner at least three hours before bedtime. Having dinner late at night can stimulate the digestive system that can make you stay awake.
- Avoid having stimulants at night: Many people have the habit of drinking coffee a few hours before bedtime to keep them up. Because the effect of caffeine lasts for several hours, this habit can make it difficult for you to sleep if you drink it three to four hours before going to sleep.
- Avoid taking frequent naps: It is okay to nap for 30 minutes in the afternoon, however, avoid taking frequent naps because it disrupts normal sleeping patterns.
- Let go of your worries before sleeping: Try to stay relaxed and calm before going to bed by thinking about whatever happened throughout the day and writing it down on a piece of paper, which helps release stress and anxiety before bedtime. This can prevent worries from interfering with your sleep schedule.
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