So How Much Sleep Does The Human Body Actually Need?

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Sleep is often the first casualty of a busy life. ‘Hustle’ culture has brought along with it the notion that if you want something bad enough you must sacrifice something too, and more often than not, that something is sleep.

What we don’t realise is that the long term effects of this lifestyle can often be devastating and lead to long term health issues. Adults need more than 7 hours of sleep per night, and children aged 6 to 12 need 9 to 12 hours for optimal health. However, life is busy, and getting an adequate amount of sleep isn’t always possible, especially when you’re travelling, studying for an exam, or raising children.

We know for a fact that people tend to under-sleep but how many hours of sleep can keep you going is unknown and differs from person to person but the effects of lack of sleep are common.

Should I take a nap during exams or sleep for 7 hours as instructed by dad? Or do I take the middle route with 3 hours of sleep? It was a question that bothered me a lot.

During the various phases of my life, I tried all three options and noticed a few things. Here’s an excerpt from my tale.

Let’s start with the favourite of all medical professionals and parents, of course, the “blue-eyed 7 hours “.

The 7-hour boy existed during my middle school. I used to party at night with my parents and their friends (no drinks of course) and had to attend school in the morning.

For some reason, the 7-hour boy didn’t perform as expected for me. It was always a task for my parents to wake me up and on top of that I would never wake up fresh. I slept in the washroom and made it to school just in time. Once in school, things were better and grasping power was good. I never took an afternoon nap so the day was productive.

How Much Sleep Do We Need?

Now comes the “bad boy 1 hour”. Pretty much my entire college life I was riding high on caffeine and slept only an hour before exams. Trust me this worked better for me than expected. I used to have a few cups of coffee in one go just before sleeping. Didn’t have any trouble sleeping or waking up and surprisingly woke up really fresh.

Unlike popular belief, memory retention was also good. Exams used to go good as I could make up for the time that I wasted during the semester by staying up for extra hours.

But every tale comes with its disclaimers, here is mine. The human body can handle extremities but only in limits. We often forget that albeit the human body is called the most perfect machine ever created, it is not a machine. And when you push your boundaries, your body will crash. That is exactly what happened on exam weekends, I would come back to my room and just crash, there was the loss of appetite and the scariest part was micro sleeping.

Microsleep is basically the body shutting down when it is not supposed to like randomly while having food and while it lasts only for a few seconds the consequences can be disastrous. Never drive with only one hour of sleep because you might end up sleeping forever.

Lastly, the middle route, the “walk on the fence three hours”. Firstly let me make this clear, walking on the fence is always a bad idea, just don’t do it.

Walking on the fence was during my high school days. This seemed like the perfect option but trust me it isn’t. It’s like playing tease with your body. Oh wait, that sounds wrong, but, oh well.

Waking up will always be a problem and memory retention will become a distant dream. Nights were dreamless and memory retention was pathetic. More or less, you get the worst of both worlds and would be tired the entire day and would definitely have an afternoon nap. Fatigue sets in a few weeks of starting this, so it’s definitely not a good idea for work life. This sleep pattern will just get you through the day and let you finish your chores but nothing beyond that.

So, “blue-eyed 7 hours” or “bad boy 1 hour” or “walk on the fence 3 hours” is all situational and a personal choice. Definitely, 7 hours of sleep is the best for everyday life. It is really balanced and calming. There will be times when you will need “bad boy 1 hour” and bad boy will never disappoint you and rather perform better than “walk on the fence 3 hours” but it’s definitely not a permanent option and rather an emergency measure.

So sleep well, sleep tight and dream on.

Featured Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

Written by Priyansh Bhattacharya

The author often finds himself shuttling between Pacific Standard Time and Indian Standard Time not because he frequents between the places but just by virtue of the timeline of his daily activities. He can also be found running in his sleep at 6 a.m during morning PT and therefore considers himself qualified to write these articles. Viewer discretion is advised. Hit him up on his email!

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