It has been debated time and again: What is the minimum number of hours of sleep we must get to derive the optimum out of our bodies?
In answer to that we have heard expert opinions of anything between a minimum of 6-8 hours to a maximum of 9-10 hours. I recently met a young man in one of my sessions at a university who confessed that he was sleeping 10-12 hours everyday! (i.e. 41.6 to 50% of his life!)
Now, before we go towards the ‘scientific’ data of sleep (which we will try not to!), let me ask you a question:
Does your sleep depend on the number of hours you have slept or how you feel when you get up?
I am sure, most of us will agree that it usually is the time on our alarm clocks that we jump out of our sleep, (with bloodshot eyes?).
Why? Because we measure sleep with the hours slept, not the quality of it.
Lets us take two states of mind from our everyday life here:
State 1: Think of a time when you barely had a couple of hours of sleep because the next day was supposed to be a fun filled event. You were so excited that you couldn’t sleep all night. The whole of next day your were involved, enjoying yourself and never thought of sleeping, not even once? It felt as if you possessed extra energy deep inside you which you didn’t know existed.
State 2: You would also recall – I am sure this happens to us more often than first state above – that sometimes you have slept all night, maybe more than the ‘prescribed’ hours of sleep, yet you felt like taking a nap hours after you are up. The reason for this probably is lack of interest in the activity at hand, your heart is not in it, you feel like doing something else and yet you are being made to do this or just doing it to please someone, out of compulsion. Rings a bell?
Some people would call the first state filled with adrenaline, others would give it another dimension, like positive energy, being in the moment et al. Call it what you may, but one thing is for sure:
It has NO relation to sleep or the lack it.
Sleep less or more, you energy level is determined by your interest or excitement in the project or task at hand or the day or your life. Some studies have proven Sleep Less – Live Longer, however, I wouldn’t want to go there at all.
Here is a personal example, there was a time around 10-12 years ago, when I used to sleep for at least 7-8 hours a day. If I did’t get that much sleep, I would feel pain in my calves, my eyes would burn, always. And that convinced me that 7-8 hours of sleep is essential for a healthy life. Right?
I have been a huge fan of Robin Sharma of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari fame. In his writings Robin has always said ‘There will be enough time to sleep in the grave’ or ‘Mind over mattress’.
So, he got me thinking. I gradually reduced my sleep from 7-8 hours a day to to 4-5 hours now.
Isn’t that amazing? And, by the way, my calves don’t hurt anymore. Maybe because I have told them not to! (Read: Get Out of Your OWN Way by Dr Robert Cooper)
Coming back to the ‘scientific’ part of it, I once heard Dr. Wayne Dyer narrate this study in one of his talks.
A study was conducted in the US to find out the actual sleep requirements of a human body.
A group of people were put together in a bunker where they could not see daylight and all the clocks and time telling devices were removed. Everyone was at his/her own free will to sleep and wake up whenever they felt like it. They didn’t have to go to work, college, school and there was no one to wake them up in the morning.
Their natural sleep requirements were then measured.
Can you guess what was the average amount of sleep that those people took?
Yes, that is the amount of sleep that is actually required by a human body in absence of an alarm clock! However, let us not get carried away with science and numbers here.
The point I am trying to make here is that more sleep is not necessarily required. It is usually in our minds. Again, Power of Thought!
If you could only reduce one hour of sleep from your everyday life, can you imagine how much extra time you would have in your hands to do what you have always wanted to do? Pursue that passion that you never had time for? Read more? Spend more time with family? Take that course that you have been procrastinating? The possibilities are immense! Just think about them!
Sleep less – live more.
Have a great life!