Imagine lying in bed at 1am, tossing and turning relentlessly in the dark. You roll onto your side to check the time and realize you’ll be running on the bare minimum: a miserable five hours of sleep to get you through the day ahead. You could start planning a coping strategy — maybe three pumps of espresso and an ice-cold shower. But here’s the good news: technically, five hours of sleep is enough to function. However, experts don’t recommend actively staying up all night just because you can. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends the average adult watch seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but for some people less is obviously more.
Seriously, who rules the world? Sleep, that’s who. It has been scientifically proven time and time again that the way you function mentally and physically throughout the day is heavily dependent on how much and how well you slept the night before, but that whole timing detail is yet to be determined Debate. According to ScienceAlert, only one percent of the population consists of “short sleepers,” people who need only four to six hours of sleep instead of the recommended seven to eight.
There are no known negative side effects of napping, but that doesn’t mean you should try it.
The weird thing about people whose bodies are somehow okay with getting less than six hours of sleep each night is that despite the apparent lack of closed eyes, they really don’t show any negative side effects. In fact, sleep author and Sleep Train expert Kelsey Down says short sleepers thrive on fewer than six hours of sleep. “The key to short sleep,” Down tells Elite Daily, “is the fact that these people get about the same amount of rest each night, and it’s usually a quality rest.” Though it sounds like it will If a short sleeper doesn’t get enough sleep, the shortened cycles meet their body’s needs.
But not everyone can count on just five hours of sleep a night. There’s a very small chance that you’re short sleeper, which means it takes your body at least the FDA-recommended number of hours to recover from the previous day and be awake and able to face the day ahead.
So how can you tell if you’re a nocturnal person? Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert, Dr. Kansagra says the answer lies in your DNA. “Although no one is quite sure how this genetic change leads to a reduced need for rest,” Kansagra tells Elite Daily, “studies have found a genetic difference.” He also notes that people can’t get used to sleeping less than your body needs because the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.
Sleeping less than six hours a night can have a negative impact on your lifestyle unless you have been clinically diagnosed as a short sleeper.
I’m willing to bet you never thought a person could actually be diagnosed with the ability to sleep fewer hours and still function properly. According to Healthline, short sleepers are diagnosed through an assessment, also known as the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire, which examines how a person behaves in their day-to-day life. People may also be asked to keep track of their sleep patterns in a journal, recording things like hours spent awake versus hours slept, how often they wake up in the middle of the night, and how often they wake up in the middle of the night Take a nap. It’s fascinating, isn’t it?
People like President Trump, President Obama, Martha Stewart and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey have said that between four and six hours of sleep is the ideal spot for them. You don’t need to sleep late to wake up and get to work feeling refreshed and energized. It’s as if these chosen few have a superhuman advantage that allows them to spend less time in bed and more time at work.
But here’s the thing about superpowers, friends: Not everyone has them, which is exactly why if you close your eyes for just a few hours each night, your body could take revenge on your sleepless soul. Maciek Drejak, founder of alarm clock app Sleep Cycle, tells Elite Daily that everything depends on your circadian rhythm, also known as the body clock, which tells us when it’s time to go to sleep and when to wake up in the morning. Because most people need more than five hours of sleep a night, if we don’t get those necessary numbers, the side effects can range from relatively harmless drowsiness and overeating to more serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Overall, you just have to make sure you’re getting enough sleep for your body.
Every body is unique and every body runs on an individual schedule. It’s true that some people can function exceptionally well with fewer than six hours of sleep a night, but this isn’t true for everyone and isn’t recommended as a general rule of thumb. Of course, insomnia will occasionally happen, and things like stress and anxiety can leave you tossing and turning, but there are ways to make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night so you wake up feeling like a #girlboss feel.
Doctor of Psychology and Licensed Clinical Social Worker Danielle Forshee, LLC suggests taking your circadian rhythm into account by developing some sort of ritual to help you wind down for the night. “Instead of looking at social media and replying to emails,” she tells Elite Daily, “you have to do something relaxing that will make you tired and fall asleep within a certain time frame.” Also, she explains, it’s important to creating a morning routine to wake up to. Schedule a time to wake up each day so your body gets used to the consistency.
Martha Cortes, DDS by Sleep Fitness LLC adds that creating a designated “sleep space” is important. That means ridding your bedroom of all electronics (yes, even your smartphone). “Turn off electronics/social media and replace them with calming activities, like reading a book for at least an hour before bed,” she tells Elite Daily. Not having those electronics also helps darken the room, making it easy to fall asleep and stay asleep.
While the concept behind napping sounds pretty great, it really isn’t that cool unless your body is ready to face the day ahead with just five hours of sleep. If you have trouble sleeping or can’t sleep more than a few hours a night, talk to your doctor to make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
His post was originally published on January 1, 2018. It was updated by Elite Daily Staff on September 12, 2019.