Many people have struggles surrounding sleep; whether its getting enough of it or going to bed at a ‘reasonable’ hour. Low quality sleep is a particularly common issue amongst university students, and achieving less than five hours sleep on a regular as a student is not unheard of.
With early nights often being traded in to study, party, binge TV shows or use social media, it can be hard to find a consistent sleep schedule that gets you a sufficient length of sleep.
So, can your body properly function with less than five hours sleep? It is well known that adults need around 7-8 hours, but, can you properly function with far less than the recommended amount? What are the ramifications when you don’t get enough? According to a 2004 study and 2018 study, five hours of sleep is certainly not enough, and not enough sleep in both the short and long term can lead to;
- increased stress
- shortened temper
- decreased alertness
- cognitive damage
- an affected metabolism
- impaired physical reflexes and motor skills
- mood destabilisation (can trigger a gradual decline in serotonin levels)
- memory loss
- increased risk of obesity, heart disease and depression.
- Motor vehicle accident
When on less than five hours of sleep, you may experience all of the above symptoms as well as a direct increased risk of diabetes and the short term deterioration of memory, reasoning and verbal ability. As a result you risk your interactions with other people being impacted. So no, your body cannot properly function on less than five hours of sleep as a lack of it can deeply affect our mind, mood and physical abilities.
Then how should we go about getting to sleep earlier and faster?
- A dark room leading up to and when sleeping
- Form a consistent bed time routine
- Make the room cooler
- Stop using your phone
- Avoid eating close to bedtime
- Reducing caffeine consumption
- Exercise during the day
Of course, I imagine that you’ve already heard these suggestions so here is another list, of unconventional ways to fall asleep quicker.
- Try to stay awake
- The military method
- Hum a song
- Stop looking at the time
- Sleep with socks on
- Breath through your left nostril
- ... and my personal favourite; Onanism
For uni students the impact of sleep deprivation on your concentration, irritability and mental health can put a strain on your studies and relationships. Hence, getting enough sleep must be made a priority. Perhaps try something from the more unusual list above when you try to sleep next!