Recently, I’ve changed my sleeping patterns to get a more effective night of sleep. So I’ve been wondering this question and decided to read up on the subject. You see, we constantly hear that we need about 8 hours of sleep per night for it to be healthy. However, this is not always the case. I used to have a co-worker that slept about 4 hours a night and he was just fine. Donald Trump says he sleeps about 4 hours as well and he’s been doing this all his life.
Thinking that i needed at least 8 hours of sleep per night, I always found myself more tired, and being less energized throughout the day. What I realized, is that I would operate just fine on 6 hours of sleep. You see, it’s really not about quantity, but quality. You can sleep 4 hours, if these 4 hours of sleep do the job it is required to do. And its job is to go through different cycles. Here is what I found off wikipedia about the different stages of sleep:
- Non-REM accounts for 75–80% of total sleep time:
- Stage 1, with near-disappearance of the alpha waves seen in awake states, and appearance for the first time of theta waves. The stage is sometimes referred to as somnolence, or “drowsy sleep”. It appears at sleep onset (as it is mostly a transition state into Stage 2) and is associated with the sudden twitches or hypnic jerks many people experience when falling asleep. While these are normal and of no concern, the hypnagogic hallucinations which some people may experience at this stage can be more troublesome. During this period, the subject loses some muscle tone, and conscious awareness of the external environment: Stage 1 can be thought of as a gateway state between wake and sleep.
- Stage 2, with “sleep spindles” (12–16 Hz) and “K-complexes.” The EMG lowers, and conscious awareness of the external environment disappears. This occupies 45–55% of total sleep.
- Stage 3, with delta waves, also called delta rhythms (.5–4 Hz), is considered part of slow-wave sleep (SWS) and functions primarily as a transition into stage four. Overall it occupies 3–8% of total sleep time.
- Stage 4 is true delta sleep. It predominates the first third of the night and accounts for 10–15% of total sleep time. This is often described as the deepest stage of sleep; it is exceedingly difficult to wake a subject in this state. This is the stage in which night terrors, bed wetting, sleepwalking, and sleep-talking occur.
- REM sleep is popularly associated with dreaming, especially bizarre, visual, and seemingly random dreams; however, dreams can also occur during sleep onset (hypnogogia) and during all stages of Non-REM sleep. REM sleep is predominant in the final third of a sleep period; its timing is linked to circadian rhythm and body temperature. The EEG in this period is aroused and looks similar to stage 1, and sometimes includes beta waves. Also known as Stage 5 sleep.
On this subject, there is no one answer for everyone. Just like our metabolism is unique for each one of us for example, sleep is as well. You can go through these stages of sleep in any amount of time. As long as it works for you, that’s all that matters. Remember, your best barometer for such instances, is how you feel. If you feel great with 4 or 8 hours of sleep, who’s to say you are doing something wrong?