Ever found yourself awake in the middle of the night knowing that you are only going to get a couple of hours’ sleep before it’s time to get up again? So, what should you do? Is 2 hours’ of sleep better than none?
Yes, two hours’ sleep is better than no sleep at all. Although it may be tempting to go without sleep altogether, you should aim to sleep for as long as possible. Read on to find out why.
How much sleep you need each night
We spend a significant portion of our lives asleep, yet many people still underestimate the crucial role a good night’s sleep plays in our overall health and well-being. It is recommended that adults aim for at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night, while children aged six to twelve years old should get between nine and twelve hours. As we grow older, our sleep needs may change, but one thing remains constant: consistently getting enough sleep is essential for optimal health and daily functioning.
A recent study reveals a concerning statistic: a staggering 35% of Americans are not meeting the recommended sleep requirements, resulting in a myriad of negative repercussions on both their physical and mental health. Insufficient sleep increases the risk of developing various illnesses, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity – conditions costing billions annually in health care and lost productivity. Not only is lack of sleep detrimental to our bodies, but it also contributes to decreased workplace performance, increased mood swings, and impaired cognitive abilities.
Now, you might be wondering, what if I cannot squeeze in the full seven hours of sleep every night as an adult? Is it better to skip sleep entirely when faced with an all-nighter? The answer is a resounding NO. While it’s ideal to get the recommended amount of sleep, even a few hours of rest is still better than none at all. Even short naps can give your body and mind the essential renewal they crave. Moreover, establishing a consistent sleep schedule and optimizing your sleep environment can also work wonders for your long-term health.
Undoubtedly, the benefits of proper sleep are indisputable. Studies show that well-rested individuals experience enhanced memory, better decision-making abilities, and improved motor skills. Imagine how much more efficiently and effectively you can tackle every aspect of your life, from your career to your relationships. You owe it to yourself to make sleep a top priority.
With today’s modern, fast-paced lifestyle, it can be tempting to sacrifice sleep for work or social activities, but in doing so, we deprive our bodies of the essential rest it needs to function optimally. So take charge of your health and prioritize sleep in your daily routine. You’ll soon find that the benefits of a good night’s sleep are worth every moment spent tucked cozily under the covers.
How the sleep cycle works
While you’re in dreamland, your brain and body go through a fascinating series of stages known as sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle is made up of four distinct phases, which include three stages of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep and one stage of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Let’s dive into the basics of each stage:
1. Stage 1 (N1): This is the lightest phase of sleep, where you’re just beginning to doze off. It’s during this stage that you may experience muscle twitches or sudden jerks, and you can be easily awakened.
2. Stage 2 (N2): Your heart rate slows down and your body temperature drops as you enter a more subdued state of sleep, although it is still a relatively light sleep. This is the stage where your body rests and rejuvenates even as your brain activity remains relatively high.
3. Stage 3 (N3 or SWS): Also known as slow-wave sleep (SWS), this is the deep sleep stage, during which you’re much harder to awaken. It’s when your brain waves slow down, allowing for optimal bodily recovery and growth.
4. Stage 4 – REM Sleep: In this final stage, REM sleep takes over as the most critical component of restorative sleep. It’s during this time that your brain sorts and consolidates memories, fosters learning, and sparks creativity. Interestingly, your body becomes nearly paralyzed during REM sleep to prevent you from acting out your dreams!
Sleep cycles are not the same all night
Did you know that your sleep cycles are not evenly distributed throughout the night? In fact, the first half of the night is dominated by NREM sleep, while the second half is characterized by longer stages of REM sleep and shorter amounts of deep sleep. The typical adult experiences four to five complete sleep cycles each night, with each lasting about 90 to 110 minutes.
As you experience more sleep cycles, the time spent in NREM sleep gets shorter and REM sleep gets longer. Over the course of the night, around 25% of your sleep is REM sleep.
Should I sleep for 2 hours or stay awake?
Considering how sleep cycles work, it’s clear that you can only get one sleep cycle completed within 2 hours of sleep, as one sleep cycle takes around an hour and a half to two hours. Although this means that you won’t experience much of the vital REM sleep that occurs after more sleep cycles, you will still get some.
It is because of how sleep cycles work that getting two hours’ sleep is better than getting none at all.
Opting for two hours of sleep, even though it’s far from the recommended 7-9 hours per night for adults, is a wiser decision than staying awake all night. Short sleep provides you with the opportunity to enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research demonstrates that even brief periods of REM sleep can result in improved mental and emotional processing.
Sleep deprivation takes a severe toll on your overall emotional state, increasing irritability, anxiety, and depression. Even a little sleep can make a huge difference. Those invaluable two hours of sleep can be enough to fuel the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood, appetite, and social behavior. This ensures you wake up feeling more emotionally balanced and ready to take on the challenges of the day.
Benefits of two hours of sleep versus none:
1. Boosting Alertness and Reaction Time:
While it might be tempting to opt for an all-nighter to meet that deadline, studies suggest that even a short nap can significantly improve alertness and cognitive performance. A 20-minute power nap offers a quick energy boost, while a two-hour nap provides one full sleep cycle, allowing your body to balance NREM and REM stages. This results in improved vigilance, which is essential for tasks like driving or operating heavy machinery.
2. Enhancing Memory and Learning:
A great way to consolidate newly acquired information is through sleep. Researchers have established that even 6-minute naps can facilitate recalling facts and figures more effectively. So if you are short on time and can spare a minimum of two hours, it can work wonders in helping you retain and process new information.
3. Alleviating Stress and Anxiety:
Sleep deprivation exacerbates stress, and we all know how a bad mood can ruin an entire day. A quick two-hour nap can work as a mood booster, providing your brain with much-needed respite from the day’s stressors.
4. Promoting Creativity and Problem-Solving:
Even if it’s just two hours, sleep bolsters our capacity for innovative thinking and decision-making. Researchers have observed an increase in creative problem-solving abilities after a nap, as opposed to a non-napping group. So next time you face writer’s block, consider taking a short nap instead of reaching for a cup of coffee.
5. Reducing the Risk of Accidents:
Without proper sleep, reflexes slow down, impairing decision-making abilities. Studies have shown that improved alertness from even a brief nap can reduce the risk of accidents caused by drowsy driving.
A Word of Caution
While two hours of sleep can occasionally act as a lifesaver, no amount of napping can replace the benefits of a full night’s sleep. Prolonged sleep deficiency can lead to severe and chronic health issues. So, treat power napping as a stop-gap measure or an emergency fix, but prioritize a regular, healthy sleep routine for optimal long-term benefits.
Can you function on 2 hours of sleep?
If you can, aim to get some extra sleep throughout the day. Even short power naps of 20-30 minutes will help. Power naps also have the following benefits:
1. Better stress management: Limited sleep can help manage cortisol, the stress hormone, by lowering its levels in the body. This reduction in cortisol can lead to a decrease in anxiety and stress, improving your overall mood.
2. Enhanced creativity: Ever wondered why your best ideas come when you’re just about to fall asleep? The answer lies in the loosened connections between different brain regions during the dreamy REM sleep stage, which can lead to creative insights in problem-solving.
3. Reduced sleep inertia: Have you ever woken up feeling groggy and disoriented after a long nap? That’s sleep inertia. Surprisingly, short naps do not lead to sleep inertia. Actually, they help you wake up feeling refreshed and alert after a quick snooze.
What is the health risk if you only get 2 hours sleep?
Not getting enough sleep for one night is unlikely to result in any adverse health consequences, but prolonged sleep deprivation can have very serious effects.
The effects of sleep deficiency on our health are far-reaching and can be life-threatening. Not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity and depression. It has been linked to an increased chance of injury in adults, teens and children. Accidents caused by lack of sleep have resulted in some of the world’s most tragic disasters including nuclear reactor meltdowns, the grounding of large ships and plane crashes.
Sleep is essential for the body to heal itself. It helps to boost our immune system and repair cells that have been damaged due to stress or illness. During sleep we also produce hormones which are vital for metabolic processes and maintaining a healthy weight. A lack of sleep also increases levels of cortisol – sometimes referred to as the ‘stress hormone’ – which can cause physical discomfort such as headaches or backaches. This can affect our ability to concentrate, remember things more easily or think clearly when making decisions.
Getting a good night’s rest is key to better overall health and well-being. When we don’t get enough sleep our bodies don’t have time to properly recharge so that we feel refreshed and energized during the day. If you’re getting less than 7 hours per night then it’s likely your cognitive abilities will be impaired leading to poor performance at work or school or putting yourself in danger from accidents due to fatigue.
Lack of sleep has serious implications for long-term health and well-being so it’s important that we make sure we’re getting adequate rest each night in order to function optimally during the day.
Read also: Is rest the same as sleep?
How to wake up after 2 hours of sleep
If you do find yourself having to wake up after just a couple of hours’ sleep, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to wake up and not sleep through your alarm clock.
Read also: How to stop sleeping through your alarm.
1. Caffeine nap
Taking a caffeine nap means drinking caffeine in the form of coffee or tea immediately before going to sleep. This way the caffeine hasn’t kicked in by the time you fall asleep but will have by the time you have to wake up. A great form of caffeine for this is green tea, as it gives you enough energy without making you feel worse through dehydration during sleep. A caffeine nap avoids that groggy feeling you get when you have only slept for a short period and helps improve your cognitive functions when you do wake up.
2. Fill your bladder
The other benefit of drinking caffeine or any other drink such as water just before bed is that it can help your body feel alert and need to get out of bed when your alarm goes off, as you will need to take a trip to the bathroom.
3. Wake up to light
If you know it is going to be light outside when you wake up, try to get to sleep with the blinds open, or use a natual light replicating alarm clock. This can help regulate your circadian rhythm and help you to feel rested when you wake up.
4. Cold shower or face-washing
Taking a cold shower or even just a splash of cold water to the face can help wake you up and make you feel more energised. It may seem counterintuitive but it has been found to be effective in helping people who have difficulty waking up from short naps.
5. Move around
A simple way to help wake you up is to move around. Jumping jacks, squats and other exercises are great ways to boost your metabolism and help you have more energy. Doing this also helps activate your muscles and get them ready for the day ahead.
6. Listen to upbeat music
Listening to upbeat music can help in stimulating your brain
Is it OK to lose one night of sleep?
Generally speaking it is OK to lose one night of sleep and you won’t do any harm to your health. However, getting very little sleep over a prolonged period will result in a sleep debt. Long term, not getting a full night’s rest has health risks that can really cause harm. Make sure to get enough rest and get extra sleep if you are feeling tired in order to avoid increased risk of accidents and health problems.
Is some sleep better than no sleep?
Yes, getting some sleep is better than no sleep at all. Even if it’s just a few hours, your body will benefit from being able to recharge itself and you may feel more productive during the day. However, going without sufficient rest for too long can have serious implications so make sure to get as much quality sleep as possible.
Conclusion: Is two hours sleep better than none?
In short, two hours of sleep is better than none at all. It can be enough to give your body some rest and help you stay productive during the day. However, it’s important that you don’t make this a habit and strive to get an adequate amount of quality sleep each night in order for your body to function optimally and avoid the long-term health risks associated with poor sleep.