Do We Need 8 Hours of Sleep?

Peter ForsterInsomnia, Insomnia Treatment

Do We Need 8 Hours of Sleep a nightA recently published study that looked at patterns of sleep in three different hunter gatherer societies challenges the long-held notion that we all need to sleep 8 to 9 hours a night and that many of us in Western society are chronically sleep deprived.

The results are summarized in an article we just published in our companion website

Tantalizing findings from the study point to a new way of addressing insomnia using a combination of light and temperature regulation which may be more effective than many of the medications we routinely prescribe for chronic insomnia.

It turns out that in these traditional societies when we go to sleep varies quite a bit from person-to-person, but when we tend to wake up is highly correlated with the point when the temperature starts to rise.

This suggests that a combination of a sophisticated algorithm for those smart thermostats that gradually lowers the temperature in our homes up to the point when we want to wake up, as well as bright light exposure once we do get up might be the best way of ensuring good quality sleep, without the side effects of sleep medications.

We are reminded once again of our clinical experience which is that people with somnolence and fatigue who also suffer from depression are more likely to be trying to get too much sleep and to be trying to sleep too late in the day than they are to be getting too little sleep.