Despite how much research is done on sleep every year in the country’s many sleep labs, the science of sleep is still largely a mystery. Even the experts have differing views on some of the most commonly asked questions about sleep! Curious where the experts stand? Check out these five common questions, and what experts on both sides of the issue have to say.

Can you accurately determine if sleep deprivation is impairing your judgement?

According to Dr. Daniel Buysse, a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, you can’t. He compares sleep deprivation with intoxication, saying: “people routinely misjudge how impaired they are with insufficient sleep”. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, sleep deprivation can and does have major impacts on your health, so best to rest up.

What happens when you only sleep for 6 hours?

One sleep study showed that when study participants cut their sleep to just 6 hours a night, their cognitive function and reaction times were reduced as much as those who went two nights without any sleep. Their bodies didn’t adjust to less sleep, but per Dr. Buysse, they did not always recognize that they were impaired!

Can you sleep too much?

According to Prevention.com, it’s a resounding “yes”. Too much sleep is when you clock more than 9 hours – and surprisingly, about 30% of US adults are “long sleepers.” So, what’s their risk? They tally up many of the same dangers signs as those who sleep too little. Long sleepers are at a higher risk for heart disease, Type II diabetes and weight gain. They also get that “fuzzy” brain. Sounds like you should set an alarm.

How do you know how much sleep you should get?

According to Jim Horne, a sleep expert at the Sleep Research Center at Loughborough University in England, the amount of sleep that you need is flexible. Horne says, “if you’re not sleepy in the day, and you’re having a fulfilling wakefulness”, you’re getting enough sleep without counting the hours.

Can you train for less sleep?

Sleep Expert Jim Horne says you can. His research had people cut down their regular sleep down to just 6 hours. Working with subjects that slept from 7 to 8 ½ hours, he had them go to bed an hour later during the first week and push it back by 1.5 hours the next three weeks. The subjects awakened at the same time every day, and Horne says they were not only able to function, but they were getting quality sleep, too. His advice: worry about quality, not quantity. If you already feel sleep deprived, don’t try to push your sleep back.

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