We need ~ eight hours of sleep every night, if we miss say three hours, two nights in a row, does it all accumulate onto the third day, or does our body train itself to requite fewer hours?

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We need ~ eight hours of sleep every night, if we miss say three hours, two nights in a row, does it all accumulate onto the third day, or does our body train itself to requite fewer hours?

In: Biology
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You can’t really recover from lack of sleep. It all just keeps accumulating and there’s really no way to get that back, even if you sleep 10 hours one day or add in naps. Sadly, we still don’t really understand what exactly sleep does for us, we just know it’s incredibly important.

But you can get used to getting much less sleep than average. Many severe insomniacs get less than 3 hours a day, and we seem to get by just fine. It’s not healthy, but that’s just the way psychological disorders go.

A lot of websites will tell you “after 20 hours without sleep, you’ve got the same mental acuity as a drunk person!” and they’re just absolutely wrong.

The most definitive thing we know about what sleep accomplishes is the alleviation of the sensation of needing sleep.

The rest is reading tea leaves of your choice.

Another thing to keep in mind is that sleep goes through different cycles throughout the night – like REM sleep and deep sleep – all important for regenerating for the next day. It’s thus not always a matter of number of hours that you sleep, but also the quality and stages that you hit. If you’d be able to go through the cycles as necessary by your brain and body to recover then yes, maybe you could do with less sleep. Chances are your body and brain do need all of these cycles and hours thou.

I was on some medications for a while that supressed my REM sleep (likely cause, at least. I did a sleep study that showed lack of REM and getting off these meds have helped). I slept 12 hours every night but was still incredibly tired and fragile – getting fevers super easily and whatnot. A small example of what lack of a part of the sleep cycles can cause, and the necessity of hitting them all.

An additional point to this – sleep stages – is that the blue light emitted from screens – your phone, TV, some lamps – interfere with the natural sleep hormone in your brain. Your brain is very disturbed by this blue light from 5 hrs, increasing exponentially by hour, before bed. Potentially, by limiting screen exposure you could get by with less sleep eventually as you’d be more likely to feel regenerated as you allow your brain to get through the cycles as intended. Maybe more in a matter of cutting an hour, and not three, every night.

Not a sleep specialist, just learnings from my own adventures with insomnia and fatigue.