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Are Short Sleepers Healthy? The Secret to Getting a Good Night's Sleep

How much sleep do you get every day?

In the U.S., a team of researchers at the University of California - San Diego conducted a large-scale sleep study of 1.1 million people, and in Japan, Nagoya University conducted a similar sleep study of 100,000 men and women. The results showed that overall the lowest mortality rate was among those who slept seven hours a day (6.5 - 7.5 hours).

While the ideal amount of sleep may be seven hours, for those of us who are battling deadlines every day, a realistic question is "Can we get by on a little less?”

Obviously, we don't want to damage our health by cutting down on sleep. However, how can we get the best sleep in the shortest time?

Of great interest are people who are called "short sleepers." In this article, we will focus on people who can sleep for short periods of time but still get high-quality sleep.

What is a short sleeper?

A "short sleeper" is a person who can remain active even with a short amount of sleep. They are able to maintain concentration on their work without getting sleepy during the day, even if they only sleep four to six hours. Both Napoleon and Edison are famously known to have been short sleepers.

By sleeping less, there is more time to work. If you find yourself saying, "I don't have enough time,” you may be tempted to try to become a short sleeper. However, according to experts, it is not possible to become an effective short sleeper with effort.

In fact, there are indications that the amount of sleep you need depends on your genetics, and less than 1% of the population are short sleepers.

Can anyone be a short sleeper?

So how do you know if you are in this category?

Perhaps the easiest way is to just go to bed without an alarm in your normal, comfortable environment with no unnecessary noise or light, and measure how long it takes you to wake up naturally.

If you are a natural short sleeper, you should be able to wake up in four to six hours and start working right away. However, if you are not a short sleeper, you will probably sleep more than 8 hours, including falling back asleep.

If you find that you are not a short sleeper, it may be that your only choice is to get seven to eight hours of sleep at night. Don’t worry, though. Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are reported to both sleep seven hours straight; as a result, they are very productive during their waking hours and achieve tremendous results.

You might not be able to be quite as successful as them, but if you're not a short sleeper, you're not going to help your productivity by cutting back on your sleep!

However, one problem is that it can be difficult to go to bed at the same time every day when you are busy with deadlines. And if you cannot change the time you get up in the morning, your sleep time can be inconsistent and not enough. What should you do in this case?

Napoleon and Edison, the earlier examples of short sleepers, slept only three or four hours a night, but it is said that they compensated for the lack of sleep by taking naps. In other words, they were not born short sleepers, but they were able to maintain their health and productivity by napping.

Supplement your superpowers with a power nap!

If you can't get enough sleep at night, power naps (active sleep) are highly recommended.

In one experiment, a 26-minute power nap during the day improved cognitive performance by 34% and attention by 54%. Power naps are said to be three times as effective as regular, nighttime sleep. So, if you lost an hour of sleep at night, a 20-minute power nap may be just what you need to get your work performance back on track.

The reason why daytime power naps can be so effective is because about 20 minutes after falling asleep, the human brain’s working memory is strengthened and the mind is refreshed.

However, if you sleep for more than 30 minutes, you will enter into a deep sleep similar to that of regular sleep at night. This can cause you to feel fuzzy-headed when you wake up.

In order to wake up refreshed after a 20 to 30-minute power nap, it is recommended to drink a cup of coffee or green tea before lying down, which will have a wake-up effect when you need it.

The 1% of natural short sleepers in the world are certainly the "chosen people," but remember that not all short sleepers are doing quality work.

We each have to deal with the cards we are dealt. However, even if you are not a natural short sleeper, taking power naps may be the best way to maintain your energy and focus at work when things get busy.



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Born in Japan and moved to China in 2008. After studying the Chinese language in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Kawai deepened his learning in Hunan and Jiangsu provinces through close interaction with locals. Currently staying in Ghana and making his endeavor to English and local Twi languages.

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