Cheat code or self-deception: Is it possible to get enough sleep in 15 minutes 

“ANOTHER FIVE MINUTES” is a phrase familiar to almost everyone since school days. It seems that sleep in modern life is sorely lacking – and, frankly, it does not seem at all. A very representative study conducted by a California-based cruise company found that sleep deprivation is a worldwide problem. More than 50% of the world’s population sleeps less than they need.  

Consequences of the regular lack of sleep is not limited to lethargy during the day – increases the risk of diseases of the cardiovascular system , obesity , anxiety disorders and depression and certain types of cancer, including breast cancer and prostate cancer. Sleep deprivation, turned from an unfortunate exception to a rule, can alter the expression of genes associated with neural plasticity, brain function and cognition. You can often hear that with the help of special techniques, you can compensate for a sleepless night in 5-10 minutes of sleep, increase productivity and improve your health. We figure out how these techniques work, when and who needs them, and in what cases they will not help.

Is it real to sleep off on the weekend

While the habit of sleeping off on weekends may compensate for the lack of sleep during the work week, according to new data , there are problems with this approach as well. First, the effect appears to decrease with age. Secondly, within the framework of the study, and this is noted by the authors themselves, only the risk of death was considered, but not other indicators, such as quality of life. Thirdly, the study was not completely controlled – and this is understandable, because it is impossible to drive 43 thousand people into the laboratory, and it would be unethical to follow them in the “natural environment” around the clock – so methodological errors remain.

Finally, there are studies that say you shouldn’t be happy about compensatory sleep on weekends. This “ social jetlag ” can be associated with bad mood, fatigue and chronic illness (and not at all with recuperation and a positive attitude, as everyone hoped). Not to mention the fact that, sleeping on weekends, we waste time – truly precious in the conditions of our usual rhythm.

Why do scientists advise you to sleep at least 7 hours

Back in 1938, the American neurophysiologist Nathaniel Kleitman and his student Bruce Richardson went to the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, one of the deepest and darkest in the world, where they spent thirty-two days trying to increase the daily cycle to twenty-eight hours. Despite the fact that the goal was different at first, when analyzing the results, it turned out that in complete isolation from sunlight, they slept for eight to eight and a half hours. That is, they did exactly what is considered to be the optimal duration of sleep today.

Many years later, in 2003, David Dines of the University of Pennsylvania decided to look at how sleep deprivation affects a person’s cognitive abilities. Dividing the volunteers into groups, in a two-week experiment, he found that the group that slept six hours a day was just as cognitively weak in the final as those who did not sleep at all during the night. The group, which slept for three hours, took just three days to achieve similar levels of cognitive impairment. And most interestingly, when the participants were given three nights of “restorative sleep”, allowed to sleep as much as they wanted, they still did not return to the same brain functionality with which they entered the experiment.

Both studies are presented for a reason. The first shows that the sleep norms that are so much talked about today are not out of thin air. Moreover, it seems that seven to nine hours of sleep is indeed the optimal amount of sleep for an adult. Sleeping less than seven hours can be just as dangerous as depriving yourself of sleep on a regular basis – as sleeping more than ten hours .

How many successful people sleep

It is known that Margaret Thatcher, dealing with a huge number of high-priority cases, slept only four hours a day. Her biographer Bernard Ingham says that this only happened on weekdays, while Thatcher allowed herself to sleep a little longer on weekends. It is believed that Voltaire also preferred to sleep no more than four hours, leaving time for his philosophical labors. All this, in fairness, he accompanied coffee, which he could drink up to thirty cups a day. Napoleon Bonaparte slept a little more, however, he also did not get to the modern standards of the experts. “Six hours for a man, seven for a woman, eight for a fool,” was his formula .

Leonardo da Vinci slept fifteen to twenty minutes every four hours, which allowed him to get six “extra” hours every day

But if you thought that successful people tend to sleep less than they should, then this is not entirely true. Physicist and humanist Albert Einstein, for example, slept ten hours every night – and did not miss the opportunity to take a nap during the day. However, this does not compare with the needs of the English mathematician of French origin Abraham de Moivre, who reportedly sometimes slept twenty hours a day. It seems that this is what each of us sometimes lacks.

Many have probably heard about the ” Leonardo da Vinci method ” – the artist slept for fifteen to twenty minutes every four hours, which, in his own words, allowed him to get six “extra” hours every day and, as a result, twenty bonus years to productivity for 67 years of life. This method, by the way, is also commonly known as the ” Ubermann sleep schedule .” Another famous fan of polyphasic sleep is the British politician Winston Churchill, who slept for about five hours at night, but always recovered his strength by going to sleep for a couple of hours during the day. The Prime Minister himself called what was happening the habit of siesta, acquired in Cuba.

Scientist Nikola Tesla rested only five hours during the day, and only two of them were devoted to sleep. The problem, however, was not lack of time. Biographers unanimously argue that the reason is the nightmares that Tesla developed sleep disorders when he was a child. Before going to bed, Tesla made sure to do gymnastics to his toes, being sure that this stimulates brain cells.

Some people really need less time to recover –
this rapid regeneration is responsible for a gene mutation associated with the regulation of circadian rhythms.

It is believed that Charles Dickens also suffered from a sleep disorder and, in order not to reduce productivity, tried to solve the problem by any available means. So, he always slept with his head to the north and allegedly even took a compass to bed to make sure that the bed was right. If sleep did not come, he went to wander the streets of London, so that later he would fall asleep from fatigue. Emily Brontë did something similar — walking in circles around the room until she was tired enough.

Finally, every second stumbled upon the legend that Salvador Dali practiced ” sleep with a key .” Considering sleep a waste of time, he, falling asleep, held a heavy metal key between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, and placed his hand over a large plate. When the key fell, the artist woke up from the ringing. According to Dali himself, he spied on this method from the Capuchin monks.

Difficult age and “sleepless elite”

Generally, the older a person gets, the less sleep they need. Demands are gradually decreasing, so that we hardly notice it, but the difference between the elderly and the young is becoming apparent. Why is this happening? Scientists from the University of California at Berkeley suggest that it may be due to age-related changes in brain mechanisms. Simply put, over time, the brain stops effectively picking up the signal that a person is tired.

People sleep in different ways – and it’s not just about the posture or the habits needed to fall asleep. Some people really need less time to recover – this rapid regeneration is responsible for the mutation of the hDEC2-P385R gene, which is associated with the regulation of circadian rhythms. It is quite possible that just those 1-3% of the population that retain energy and productivity even with an extremely limited amount of sleep, for which they received the name “sleepless elite”, are carriers of such a mutation.

Interrupted sleep
as a biological necessity

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wech conducted an experiment in which he asked a group of volunteers to stay in a dark room for fourteen hours every day (instead of the typical eight hours). By the fourth week, almost all participants came to a clear two-phase sleep pattern: they slept for four hours, then woke up for one to three hours, and then fell asleep for another four hours. Does this mean that biphasic sleep is natural for humans? And isn’t that why we sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, even if there is no need, for example, to go to the toilet?

It is useful to recall here a 2000 study by the Harvard School of Public Health, which showed that practicing siesta increases the risk of heart attack by re-awakening the cardiovascular system – complications from it tend to occur in the morning after sleep. This is an important risk – although there are certainly benefits to siesta: in a study with sailors, the benefits of daytime work have been confirmed for the recovery of the body with continuous and hard work.

Imperfect sleep patterns may be an evolutionary mechanism, once essential to ward
off nocturnal threats

The good news is that if you don’t sleep well, sedentary lifestyles, blue light from screens, or apps that trigger orthosomnia are n’t necessarily to blame . In one study of Hadza, an indigenous people of northern Tanzania, it was found that they also have a common nighttime awakening, and sleep patterns in general are very different. This allowed the authors of the work to suggest that imperfect sleep patterns may be an evolutionary mechanism, once absolutely necessary for protection from nocturnal threats.

In general, despite all the risks associated with lack of sleep and nighttime awakenings, the global statistics are relentless. And if in 1942 exactly eight hours of sleep were the average, now this figure has dropped to 6.2 hours. Is it worth it to additionally reduce sleep with such initial values? The question is rhetorical. But if you really want to, then you can try one of the methods approved by science.

5 ways to fall asleep and get enough sleep faster

Scientists, at least most of them, do not support the REM sleep techniques used by great minds. But they, however, perfectly understand that the ability to quickly fall asleep and get enough sleep is more important today than ever. And they offer some options on how to modify your sleep.

FOLLOW LIGHT LEVEL. Blackout curtains, no night light, perhaps even a sleep mask – all this contributes to the release of melatonin, which is necessary for soft falling asleep.

SLEEP WITH THE PERSON YOU LOVE. Research shows that there is a direct link between sleep quality and a couple’s relationship. The more attached you are to the person you fall asleep with, the better you sleep and the easier it is to wake up.

COME UP WITH A RITUAL. Of course, this method won’t work right away. But if you make it a rule to listen to an audiobook before bed for 20 minutes, read at least one chapter or write down the most important moments of the past day in a notebook, over time this activity will become an incentive to sleep, scientists say .

KEEP YOUR FEET WARM. Experiments have shown that cozy socks, a heating pad, or just a bottle of warm water in your feet can speed up falling asleep and improve sleep in general much more than it seems.

USE THE PARADOXIC INTENTION STICK – Try to convince yourself that you are not sleepy . You can try to lie with your eyes open or, conversely, close them and repeat to yourself “I am not sleeping.” The point is to stop trying to sleep and let sleep take over you.

How to get enough sleep
in 15 minutes

Sometimes, however, it is not only possible to allow yourself ten to fifteen minutes of sleep, but also necessary – for example, during a responsible job or if you are tired of driving. Daytime sleepiness, studies show , affects our body like alcohol intoxication. And this is especially important when it comes to activities that require increased concentration.

How to make the process as easy as possible so that fifteen minutes of sleep is not preceded by half an hour of falling asleep? Psychologist Sara Mednick, a short but effective sleep specialist at the University of California, is confident that if you really need it, basic techniques will work. Namely, a sleep mask, a switched off phone (because even the most important things can wait fifteen minutes), a comfortable position of the body and an atmosphere of complete calmness.

local_offerevent_note May 25, 2021

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