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Eight solid hours of sleep... and DOOM!
June 11, 2008 9:59 AM   Subscribe

How much sleep do you really need? Six and a half to seven and a half hours. People who sleep eight hours a night are 12% more likely to die in a six-year period than those who sleep less. If your new lack of sleep means you get tired mid-afternoon, recent research says the solution is, shockingly, to nap. And if you can't nap, at least learn the optimal way to dose yourself with caffeine.
posted by blahblahblah (66 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Everyone has a 100% chance of dying.
posted by trondant at 10:04 AM on June 11, 2008 [16 favorites]


so if I sleep zero hours a night I'll live forever?
posted by xbonesgt at 10:04 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I go to sleep around 10:30 and wake up around 5:30, that's....7 hours!

SEE YOU AT THE CEMETARY, SUCKAHS!
posted by DU at 10:04 AM on June 11, 2008


For those who want the full scoop of hours vs. deaths, the hazard rates per hours slept graphs are in the second link in my post.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:06 AM on June 11, 2008


I came here to say what trondant said.
posted by LSK at 10:09 AM on June 11, 2008


...the study could not explain the causes or reasons for this association.

But we know the moral: SLEEP LESS. And whatever you do, don't take medication for heart disease or cancer. People who take these medications are 87% more likely to die.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:09 AM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sleep is extremely dangerous, and to be avoided at all costs. Why, every year, millions of people die in their sleep!
posted by aubilenon at 10:09 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ditto.
posted by Sinner at 10:09 AM on June 11, 2008


The study showed that a group sleeping 8 hours were 12 percent more likely to die within the six-year period than those sleeping 7 hours, other factors being equal. Even those with as little as 5 hours sleep lived longer than participants with 8 hours or more per night.

The mean age for women in the study was 57, while the mean age for men was 58. Within the six year period, 5.1 percent of the women had died and 9.4 percent of the men. The causes of death resembled the distribution for the general population.


To trondant's point, what the poster meant to say is that they were more likely to die during the six year period that study was taking place.
posted by rooftop secrets at 10:10 AM on June 11, 2008


so if I sleep zero hours a night I'll live forever?

Yeah, but without sleep, you turn into a zombie somewhere around the 72-hour mark.
posted by Spatch at 10:10 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


LSK, Trodant: You got me. If I could edit the post I would change it to say the study showed that they were 12% more likely to die in a six year period. If the mods want to change it, that would be great.

If they don't, consider me officially mocked for bad sentence construction.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:12 AM on June 11, 2008


Watch the insulin, too! Most people who take that garbage wind up disabled, footless, and dead!
posted by pullayup at 10:12 AM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


without sleep, you turn into a zombie somewhere around the 72-hour mark.

Sweet! Zombies don't get cancer.
posted by Mister_A at 10:12 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, I'm not a statistician or anything, but it seems to me this study includes some very old people, who I would imagine are likely to (a) sleep more and (b) die. If it were to cut off at, say, age 60 rather than age 102 (!), it might be a little more compelling.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any idea where I can get my hands on a non-prescription cardioprotective agent? I think I'm going to start optimizing my caffeine use right away.
posted by IndpMed at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2008


"Everyone has a 100% chance of dying."

past performance does not necessarily predict future results
posted by stubby phillips at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


For those who want the full scoop of hours vs. deaths, the hazard rates per hours slept graphs are in the second link in my post.

I trust those graphs a little more with some error bars... I seriously doubt all of the apparent relationships on those graphs are significant.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:14 AM on June 11, 2008


Hmnph. I'd rather live a short, well-rested life than a long one spent sleeping at my desk.
posted by moonlet at 10:17 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


IndpMed, I have access, via Canadian pharmacy connections, to a wonderful new product called acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) with established cardioprotective effects. I can provide this product to you if you would simply post your bank information and mailing address, along with your mother's maiden name and your significant other's pinkie, in this thread. Also, you have won the Italian lottery.
posted by Mister_A at 10:19 AM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'll sleep when I'm dead...er, wait a sec...
posted by briank at 10:20 AM on June 11, 2008


There is one small correction to be made. I knew a guy in that study who was in the one-hour per night category, and last Tuesday he was found, along with his groceries, plastered to the grille of a Mack truck.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:22 AM on June 11, 2008


Okay, my last follow-up post on my own FPP, honest:

"This was the first large-scale population study of sleep to also take into consideration variables such as age, diet, exercise, previous health problems, and risk factors such as smoking, in comparing longevity among the participants. In other words, individuals with specific characteristics were compared with individuals of a similar age, health background, etc."

And the study itself is available here, though you can only read an abstract without a subscription. And this is not to say the study doesn't have flaws, of course, including not gaging sleep quality and number of naps, as well as relying on self-reporting. But still, pretty good for a large-sample research effort.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:22 AM on June 11, 2008


Napolean had little sleep but took very short catnaps that kept him very active and filled with energy. But he died.

After a certain age, not sure when, most people find they need naps to get ready for American Idol or get insights into what is going on in America on the Bill O'Reilly show.
posted by Postroad at 10:27 AM on June 11, 2008


Studies since 2002 have looked at this plenty, and even controlling for age it's there. Still, many think that the increase is reverse causation exactly as others have stated: sick people will sleep more and die more. The guy in the Time article says as much.

Interventional trials are needed. However, there's relatively little money to be made by anyone in changing people's sleep habits, so that's not going to happen. There are sleep inducing (and reducing) drugs, but nobody really thinks that those are going to get pushed out en-mass.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:29 AM on June 11, 2008


I would love to design that phase III trial. "Hey you! Take a nap!"
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:31 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll stick with my 8 hours of sleep a night if it means my children and grandchildren won't be preventing me from getting blow jobs later.
posted by drezdn at 10:33 AM on June 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


To trondant's point, what the poster meant to say is that they were more likely to die during the six year period that study was taking place.

Aye, and I've updated the post text to reflect that. Hope that helps a little.
posted by cortex at 10:34 AM on June 11, 2008


I knew sleeping too much meant that I was lazy, just not fatally lazy.
posted by Hugonaut at 10:41 AM on June 11, 2008


Well, it may simply be that sleepy people die more. I'd like to see a study of people who restrict the hours they sleep vs. those who naturally sleep less. If those forcing themselves to sleep less also lived longer, that would be compelling evidence that it was a good idea.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 AM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Too many confounding factors to establish any kind of cause and effect relationship. Sick and incapacitated people sleep more, old people sleep more, depressed people and the unemployed sleep more, etc. The most you can conclude is that if you happen to fall into the group of people who regularly sleeps 8+ hours a night, well, something's probably screwed up in your life and it might be jeopardizing your health.
posted by decoherence at 10:56 AM on June 11, 2008


You want to sleep less?
Live with a two-year-old.
MeFi-mail me for an application and rate sheet.
I guarantee you will sleep LESS, with reduced COMFORT
than EVER BEFORE.
posted by Dizzy at 10:59 AM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I knew the college/school sleep schedule had some benefit (mine is simply to get at least 7 hours of sleep and then nap in the library if time permits... =D). I'm taking my summer break and I feel all of a sudden a little less ambitious (besides the fact there is no homework other than chores, class assignments, etc. to keep me up), thus sort of vindicating this study...
posted by JoeXIII007 at 11:01 AM on June 11, 2008


My cat apparently has my back, longevity-wise.

crotch-kneading, face-pawing motherfucker
posted by everichon at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


Even those with as little as 5 hours sleep lived longer than participants with 8 hours or more per night.

Oh THANK GOD then that my average-Middle American lifestyle now pretty much REQUIRES ME to only sleep five of six hours a night! It sure is some coincidence that dear old TIME Magazine has the numbers to prove that the old, slackerly, pre-information age idea of 8 hours at work, 8 hours with the family, and 8 hours sleep was merely MURDEROUS COMMIE AGITPROP.

Can't wait until scientific proof is found that silently and numbly watching TV or surfing the internet, drink in hand, is conclusively better for your health than talking with your family!
posted by mwhybark at 11:13 AM on June 11, 2008 [9 favorites]


I'm a horrible sleeper. I spend about nine hours in bed, but only five or six of it sleeping. Is this good, or bad? Why do these studies always equate in-bed with sleeping-time? :/
posted by rokusan at 11:24 AM on June 11, 2008


This is the biggest pile of bullshit I've heard. Today.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 11:26 AM on June 11, 2008


What delmoi said.
posted by Nattie at 11:28 AM on June 11, 2008


I think I must be of unknown Spanish heritage somehow.

Everyday I want that goddamn siesta so bad it hurts.

*zzzzz... drool onto keyboard...zzzz*
posted by BobFrapples at 11:35 AM on June 11, 2008


Correlation does not necessarily equal cause. The rigorousness of this study does not impress me. And if I regularly only got seven hours of sleep I'd constantly be cranky and incapable of thinking clearly. And I'd rather die before I get sick and feeble anyway.
posted by Caduceus at 11:38 AM on June 11, 2008


I get 8+ hours of sleep a night (on average) and haven't died within the last six-year period. But I'm an outlier. I lie out often.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 11:39 AM on June 11, 2008


"past performance does not necessarily predict future results"

this is true. out of the approximately 106 billion who have ever been born, only about 94.4% have died.
posted by CrazyJoel at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but without sleep, you turn into a zombie somewhere around the 72-hour mark.

I can confirm but not recommend this. Tried it when writing my master thesis.

Anyway, you can take away my 8+ hours sleep when you can pry it from my cold, dead ... uh
posted by ZeroAmbition at 11:56 AM on June 11, 2008


The moral of the story is this:

Avoid six-year periods.
posted by Mister_A at 12:00 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Six-year periods!
posted by criticalbill at 12:04 PM on June 11, 2008


Old adage: Six hours of sleep if you're a man, seven if you're a woman, and eight if you're a fool.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:11 PM on June 11, 2008


It's actually 8.5 for most people, based on Eve Van Cauter's study data on what happens to the endocrine system during sleep. I'm guessing that there is a cutural variable driving the BOGUS data from this study... I'm guess that most people who sleep more are less active both personally and professionally... and we all know or we should: Exercise is King.
posted by ewkpates at 12:14 PM on June 11, 2008


How does this correlate to amount of sexytime, please?
posted by loiseau at 12:38 PM on June 11, 2008


If I only got six and a half hours of sleep each night I'd die from walking into traffic or sawing my arm off with heavy machinery. I don't really see how having not fully functioning motor skills might help me to live a longer life.

Besides sleeping more than 8 hours a night keeps you from getting fat.
posted by Jess the Mess at 1:19 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I typically go to bed at 4:00 AM, take an hour to fall asleep, and get up around 10:30 or 11:00. So, that's, er, five or six hours? Of course, I have a dog visit at 8:00 on the nose, so it's not really six uninterrupted hours.

I wish I didn't have to sleep at all. There's lots of things to do in the world.
posted by maxwelton at 1:20 PM on June 11, 2008


Of course, having made that wish, I now recall some sort of X-Files episode where that wish went horribly wrong. Hm.
posted by maxwelton at 1:21 PM on June 11, 2008


Exercise and meditation are two key factors in reducing need for long sleep periods. I'd like to see some real research done in that area, as there is already anecdotal evidence to the case.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:47 PM on June 11, 2008


I nap every work day from 12:50 to 1:05 at my desk. I know for a fact I'm part of a small but growing demographic that is unapologetic in their need for a nap. It's my salvation.
posted by docpops at 3:09 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't the more relevant thing to study be some measure of "alertness", or mental agility, rather than death rates? This study doesn't tell me how much sleep is ideal to be able to function optimally, or "feel" best during the day. That is what I would be more interested in.
posted by btkuhn at 5:26 PM on June 11, 2008


I have a dog visit at 8:00 on the nose

That must be a really small dog!
posted by troybob at 5:31 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Or a medium dog convinced he is a very small dog.
posted by maxwelton at 5:49 PM on June 11, 2008


Man, I'm sick of these doctors. They take all the fun out of life. I can understand why smoking is harmful, and although nothing's going to keep me from my beer, I know it's not entirely healthy. But I am *not* going to feel guilty when I get 8 or even 9 hours of sleep. It's just too satisfying.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:13 PM on June 11, 2008


Hm. I've noticed that I tend to be more alert throughout the day when I get 6 -7 hours of sleep than when I get 8+. I thought this was weird, but maybe there's something to it. On the other hand, I also suspect that timing is significant, which may be what I'm experiencing. That is, that there may be times within the 24 hr cycle when sleep is optimal. This probably varies from person to person. But I'm sharper if I sleep from 2 - 6 rather than 2 -10. But I'll be damned if I can get myself to get up at 6 consistently. Sleep is yummy. Even if it's killing me.

PS - naps rock. I often sleep in my chair during my lunch hour, and this always makes me more productive in the afternoon.
posted by flotson at 7:43 PM on June 11, 2008


Correlation is not causation.
posted by sophist at 2:46 AM on June 12, 2008


Sleeping is giving in, no matter what the time is. Sleeping is giving in, so lift those heavy eyelids. People say that you'll die faster than without water. But we know it's just a lie...
posted by kittyprecious at 8:46 AM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Correlation is not causation.

Or IS it?
posted by flotson at 11:05 AM on June 12, 2008


How does this correlate to amount of sexytime, please?
More sex, less sleep, longer life. Simple. Was this PI really that oblivious? From the study: "Reported sleep had to be less than 3.5 hours among women (as occurred among only 0.1%) or less than 4.5 hours among men (0.7% of men) for the added risk associated with short sleep to exceed 15%." Chart of the hazard ratios here. In other words, the individuals with the lowest hazard ratios had between 4-7 hours of sleep. Hmm.. why would it be skewed towards less than 8 hours?

Then again, the mean age for these patients were 57 (female) and 58 (male). I don't mean to be ageist but honestly, I think by this age, your sleeping habits aren't the biggest factor in life expectancy anymore.
posted by junesix at 6:21 PM on June 12, 2008


Everyone has a 100% chance of dying.

Even Ray Kurzweil!
posted by lukemeister at 8:28 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like sleep.
posted by homunculus at 10:37 AM on June 14, 2008


zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
posted by subgear at 10:09 PM on June 15, 2008


Can a Night Owl Become a Morning Person?
posted by homunculus at 10:52 PM on June 16, 2008


Step 1:
Have a child.
Step 2:
There is no step 2.
posted by Dizzy at 7:14 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


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