"The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.
"

Dr. Seuss,  I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Sleeping Your Life Away: Is Sleeping A Waste of Your Life?

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
“Sleeping is for sissies.”
“Sleep is a waste of time.”
“Sleep is a waste of life.”

Do you agree with any of these?

Research says that people spend ⅓ of their total life span sleeping. That means that if you get to be 90, and you sleep 7-8 hours a day, you spend about 24-30 of those years snoozing. And many people equate that to be 30 years of life wasted.

A lot of prominent and successful people sleep less than 7-8 hours a day not only because they don’t have a choice but also because they truly believe that sleeping is unproductive.

The prolific inventor Thomas Edison slept only 3 to 4 hours at night. Below is a quote from him in one of his interviews:

"People will not only do what they like to do — they overdo it 100 percent. Most people overeat 100 percent, and oversleep 100 percent, because they like it. That extra 100 percent makes them unhealthy and inefficient. The person who sleeps eight or ten hours a night is never fully asleep and never fully awake — they have only different degrees of doze through the twenty-four hours. … For myself I never found a need for more than four or five hours’ sleep in the twenty-four. I never dream. It’s real sleep. When by chance I have taken more I wake dull and indolent."

We are always hearing people talk about ‘loss of sleep’ as a calamity. They better call it loss of time, vitality and opportunities. Just to satisfy my curiosity I have gone through files of the British Medical Journal and could not find a single case reported of anybody being hurt by loss of sleep. Insomnia is different entirely — but some people think they have insomnia if they can sleep only ten hours every night.

Fast forward to present, we have successful short- sleepers such as:

Elon Musk Dana WhiteMartha StewartArnold SchwarzeneggerTimothy SykesSergio MarchionneTim Cook, Richard Branson to name a few. Donald Trump famously said “How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping 3 or 4?”

So, is sleep deprivation really the key to be more successful? Does snoring away all night gives us fewer precious moments to make things happen?

Well, that isn’t the case for other very successful people like Bill GatesJeff Bezos, Tobias LutkeJack Ma and Lebron James who need at least 7-8 hours of sleep to wake up energized and productive.

Here’s what Dr. Karl Doghramji, the medical director of the Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center said about it:

To say that sleep is unnecessary or that it’s overrated really applies to that specific person. It doesn’t say much in general about sleep for all humans. People who want to be successful should first of all ask themselves, ‘Am I feeling fresh and alert and am I functioning normally?

Some people are lucky that they can sleep less, but for others, that may backfire. If they sleep less, they may be more cognitively impaired, and for that specific individual, that may be the wrong thing to do. However, those rare ‘short sleepers’ who do best on four to five hours of sleep, shouldn’t try to force themselves to sleep more either. I’ve had people like that come to my office distressed and alarmed that they can only get four and a half hours of sleep. I have to comfort them.”

There you have it. Sleep needs can vary depending on the individual. Too much sleep can also kill you according to a global study released by the European Heart Journal.

So the takeaway is if you’re sleeping less or more than your own personal clock demands, that’s where health problems mostly come into play. So figure out what works for you.

However, in general and for most healthy people, the following is the standard guideline in as far as the number of sleeping hours is concerned:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day 
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours each day 
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours each day 
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours each day 
  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours each day 
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours each day
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours each day
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours each day
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours

*New age category The National Sleep Foundation (NSF)

Furthermore, here are 5 signs that you’re getting healthy sleep even if you don’t think you are:

You wake up naturally without an alarm - If you rise naturally without an alarm clock that forces you out of bed, then it’s most likely that you just had a good snooze.

You get a morning boost without caffeine - For most of us, caffeine is a must to get an energy jolt. If you notice you're making it to the afternoon without even thinking about reaching for a caffeinated beverage, or that you really just don't crave it at all, it's a signal that you're getting enough sleep.

You’re maintaining your weight - Sleep affects your weight. Getting enough sleep helps your hormones function at its optimum best; https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/good-nights-sleep-can-help-you-maintain-healthy-weight insulin production is normal and therefore your appetite isn't all over the place.

Your skin is clear and glowing - There’s a reason why you need your beauty sleep. After all — dark circles and blemishes are hard to come by when you're getting enough sleep. There’s enough research and science behind the concept of beauty rest.

You’re in good mood - For many of us, not getting enough sleep pretty much guarantees crankiness. Sleep deprivation can alter one’s mood, and so can getting enough sleep. According to the  Sleep Health Foundation, you may experience less anxiety, less risk of depression, less stress, more motivation, and a lesser chance of extreme reactions to unpleasant events when you don’t deprive yourself of sleep.

So, if you're feeling more positive and are all around in a good mood, it could very likely be because of getting enough sleep.

And if you’re not seeing all those signs and are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, check out these tips from Deepak Chopra. It may be just what you need.