General consensus on the amount of sleep adults need: six to eight hours


Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 6:51pm

Being a college student, I am always looking for more time: time for socializing, time for studying, time for work, etc. One area in my life I’ve noticed that I am not prioritizing is sleep. If we live 90 years on this planet, on average, we are sleeping for 30 years of that. I have found myself in a stupor lately, thinking, “there has to be a better way.”

When we talk about sleep, we need to realize that there are two main types, REM and non-REM, along with five stages. Four of these stages of sleep are directly related to non-REM sleep, while one is directly related to REM sleep.

We know that REM sleep is the most “important” type of sleep. This is where we change short-term memories to long-term memories, our bodies do the greatest amount of healing and our muscles’ relax, reports the website

There’s a general consensus among doctors on the amount of sleep we need as adults: six to eight hours. This is because, on average, it takes an adult six to eight hours to cycle through the five stages of sleep. They call this sleep cycle, the cycle where you get your sleep in one six to eight hour chunk, a “Monophasic-Sleep Cycle.” This is the sleep cycle I talked about before, the sleep pattern where you sleep a third of your life away.

Another way to get needed sleep is a cycle called “Biphasic-Sleep Cycle.” This cycle is where we break up our sleep into two separate shorter times; midnight to 4:30 a.m.—6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.. This would be an example of a Biphasic-Sleep Cycle, (take notice that you sleep about four hours in the morning and than an additional hour or two at night.) This way of sleeping is great for two reasons: one, you are asleep when other people are asleep. Two, if you sleep anything over six hours currently, you can easily cut down that sleep to six hours, giving you the possibility of becoming a more productive member of society. If you saved just two hours a day on sleep in a year you’d be awake 730 more hours , that’s 30 days, a whole month according to

The sleep study that has caught my eye is the, “Multi or Polyphasic-Sleep Cycle.” For those who don’t know what this is right off the bat; this cycle is the one that the hit show Seinfield plagiarized in the episode; “Personal Development for Smart People.” This sleep cycle is about forcing the body to get into REM sleep quickly and stay there for a short time, enough time to get the rest needed to last till the next nap—about four hours away.

On average, people who are on a Polyphasic-Sleep Cycle take six naps a day, four hours apart, with each one being around 20 minutes, (for those of us that aren’t math majors, that’s only two hours of sleep a day).

Now, there are side effects; you have to schedule everything around your nap time, no driving long distances without someone who can drive during your nap times, you have to be able to be by yourself; because, you are awake when other people are sleeping. On this system, you save an amazing six hours of sleep a day, according to>(That’s 91 days, three months in one year). The Monophasic-Sleep Cycle is the most common form of sleep, with Biphasic being a close second and Polyphasic being a distant third according to

Now, before you grab your torch and pitchforks, come after me for blaspheming against sleep, please stop and think to yourself, “what could I do with this extra time?” Maybe it will be time to hold a child, fall in love with that friend you never thought of before, get that first kiss, ace that class, go to the funeral of a special loved one, smoke that cigar while enjoying that special glass of wine.

Maybe it will be a time to help your neighbor, bring a smile to your special someone, or have your heart crushed when they say they don’t love you anymore.

To me, all these moments are priceless. They are the greatest things that can happen. I have my mind made up on how I am going to start sleeping, how about you? Let’s all start living more.

Filed under: lifestyles