4 Hours of Sleep: Is It Enough for You?

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How much sleep do you really need? You might automatically answer “eight hours”, but is this true?

Sleep is vital for our well-being and getting enough of it can improve your body’s physical and mental performance.

But what if you were to only have 4 hours of sleep? How would that affect you? Do you need more than that? Read on to find out.

What Happens When You Only Get 4 Hours of Sleep?

No one person will need the same amount of sleep as another, and there is no such thing as a “normal” quantity. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Is getting 4 hours of sleep enough then?

It’s critical to strike the appropriate balance. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body uses more energy to do daily tasks since it is working harder to keep you awake. It has the potential to affect your attention span, focus, strategic thinking, risk assessment, and response speed. According to research, people who sleep for four hours or less performed as if they were eight years older on cognitive exercises.

Sleep deprivation will have an impact on you, not just the next day, but also the day after. According to a 2021 study from the University of Florida, consecutive sleep deprivation is connected with “degraded trajectories of daily psychological and physical well-being.” Three nights of sleep deprivation will have a significant influence on your body and mind, including your mental health. And, if you want to figure out how to sleep less and believe you can just pay back your sleep debt on weekends and be more productive during the week, think again; this study discovered that even one night of sleep deprivation can dramatically affect your everyday productivity.

Although sleeping only four hours of sleep each night does not constitute full sleep deprivation, it will have an impact on your productivity and physiological functioning. Four hours of sleep each night just isn’t enough for most of us to wake up feeling refreshed and cognitively aware. Research has shown that the ideal time of seven to nine hours of sleep each night (the period linked with highly functioning cognitive activity) is generally the same for all individuals, regardless of age.

DID YOU KNOW: Sleep deprivation increases the risk of having a heart attack. People who slept for fewer than six hours each night had a 20% increased risk of having a heart attack, according to one study.

What if You Sleep 4 Hours Twice a Day?

You might initially think it odd that sleeping for 4 hours twice a day would be the same as sleeping for eight hours straight through, but there is evidence to show that this may be so. In fact, this is how people used to sleep in the past. It’s called biphasic or polyphasic sleep (depending on whether your sleep is split into two or more distinct phases). Studies suggest that this can actually be highly positive in terms of improving your mental function and physical health. As long as each period includes the important parts of sleep such as deep sleep and REM sleep, and as long as your mattress is as comfortable as possible, this can be highly effective.

In other words, if you choose to sleep 4 hours twice a day, this might not be quite so detrimental as you may at first believe. As a matter of fact, this biphasic sleeping pattern is actually ideal for anyone who has trouble staying asleep and keeps waking up after 4 hours of sleep anyway. Perhaps you’ll even get more work done early in the morning or late at night and then sleep again during the day or after a few hours of additional work. For some, this could work wonders for their productivity and decision-making.

DID YOU KNOW: It’s important to know what to do if you can’t sleep; some useful tips include drinking herbal tea, listening to music, not drinking alcohol before sleep, or taking a warm bath.

Key Takeaways

Most people need around eight hours of sleep each night.
It is possible to sleep in two (or more) phases, but eight hours is still the ideal total.
When you are sleep-deprived, you will lose focus, be less productive, feel groggy and irritable, and your health may suffer.
It’s important to try different methods to help you get to sleep if you have trouble sleeping.

How to Survive on 4 Hours of Sleep

We’ve seen what the results of lack of sleep are, ranging from irritability to cognitive impairment. Sometimes this amount of sleep is all we can get, however, whether that’s because of our work or because of some mental or physical reason, such as having anxiety at bedtime or suffering from insomnia.

If you can only get this limited amount of sleep, and there’s no way to add another one or two blocks of sleep throughout the day, you’ll most likely feel groggy, unrested, and unproductive when you wake, yawning a lot and not enjoying your day. So, what can be done to ensure you learn how to survive on 4 hours of sleep?

  • Food And Drink

To begin with, make sure you stay hydrated. Because your body is made up of more than 60% water, it needs fluid to operate. Drinking water anytime you feel thirsty, however, is insufficient – particularly on days when you can’t afford to lose any more energy.

Your body might feel parched because it needs to keep working despite not receiving enough rest. As a result, you will get more fatigued and suffer from drowsiness. Sipping water throughout the day even when you’re not feeling thirsty, will help you feel much more mentally alert.

When you wake up feeling tired due to the 4 hours of sleep and its effects on you, eating a large meal is a bad idea. A heavy dinner will make you sleepy. Instead, spread out your meals throughout the day and pick modest servings of lean meats, eggs, nuts, and legumes. However, drinking caffeine can certainly work – just don’t make this a habit as it could make you sleep even less in the long run.

  • Cold Shower

Once you’ve had something to drink, try a cold shower. Exposure to cold water forces your body to restore its body temperature to its ideal 98.6°F. This causes the body to use up its fat stores, increasing your metabolism and, as a result, improving your energy levels.

  • Exercise

How about getting your exercise as soon as you get out of bed? If you’re feeling tired due to only getting 4 hours of sleep a night, this will sound like a horrible idea, but it will help immensely in terms of making you feel rested even if you didn’t get much sleep.

  • Sunshine

Sunshine can also be helpful if you haven’t had much sleep and you need to be productive the next day. Being in the sun for 30 minutes improves your mood by increasing serotonin levels and melatonin production and will help you sleep better the next night.

Remember, if you only had 4 hours of sleep, don’t take part in any dangerous activities that require your full cognitive abilities.

DID YOU KNOW: It’s not just how long you sleep, but your sleep quality too. When you sleep well, your circadian rhythm can work as it’s supposed to. That’s why getting yourself a quality organic mattress or a spacious queen-size bed is a great idea if this will help you relax. A comfortable pillow is also a must. 

Conclusion

Getting only 4 hours of sleep per night is not a good thing in the long term. Unless you can supplement your sleep with an additional four-hour block during the day. However, if it happens once in a while and you follow the useful tips on how to feel more awake, it shouldn’t be a problem.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I've loved writing since I can remember, and back in high school, I started loving psychology as well. So I majored in it while dabbling in spirituality and yoga on the side.

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