With so much to do, and so little time to accomplish it, sleep can feel like a waste of a precious resource. Wouldn’t it be great if we could train our bodies to need less sleep?
It is possible, some research has found. But it won’t work for everyone.
“There are far more people who would like to need less sleep than who actually need less sleep,” says Dr. Daniel Buysse, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Though the amount of sleep a person needs each night depends on their age and physical activity, most healthy adults should get between seven and nine hours each night. Many don’t hit that target: about one third of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sleep is vital for the brain and the body to function at their best, and when a person doesn’t get enough of it, their brain can’t repair or build new pathways, Buysse says. That makes it more difficult to retain information, engage in complex thinking and stay focused. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to physical health problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.