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Is 6 Hours Sleep Enough To Function Effectively?

6 hours of sleep is generally not enough for most adults to function at their best. Everyone’s sleep needs will vary, but generally experts agree that 7-9 hours a night is required for optimal health, brain performance and alertness.

Our ‘always on’ modern lifestyles have led to a significant decrease in the amount of sleep we’re getting, leading many people to wonder just how much sleep is the right amount of sleep to get. 

It is recommended that we sleep seven or eight hours per night, so that our body regenerates itself but with our hectic and busy lives at home and at work, reaching the ideal amount of rest is rarely possible. 

Let us have a look at the importance of sleep, highlighting why 6 hours are not enough, and discussing how we can ensure our bodies are getting the rest they need.

Is 6 Hours of Sleep Enough for You?

Setting a target to sleep more than 6 hours is easier said than done. It is difficult to reach this target with the limited time we have. However, it is not difficult to know if your 6 hours of sleep are leading to sleep deprivation. Yawning, feeling tired, experiencing brain fog or irritability are all signs that you are sleep deprived.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that people over the age of 65 get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Adolescents, pre-schoolers, and toddlers also have recommended hours of sleep. But what about the average adult?

In addition, sleep deprivation can cause behavioural and emotional symptoms such as lack of motivation, clumsy responses, and increased hunger. If your 6 hours of sleep are causing these symptoms, it likely means that you are not meeting the sleep recommendations for your age and body’s needs and should try to increase your sleep to see if this improves.

The Elements That Make Up Sleep

When we fall asleep, we go through the “sleep cycle.” which is a sequence of four stages the occur during a normal night’s sleep.

Stage one of sleep

The first stage of our sleep cycle is the lightest stage. It occurs when you start nodding off. During this stage, you may experience twitches known as hypnic jerks, and your sleep will be light so that you will easily wake up during this stage. Then, the body prepares itself for a deeper level of sleep, so the muscles start to relax, and the brain starts to slow down.

Second Stage of Sleep

As your body enters the second stage of the sleep cycle, your body temperature starts to decrease. Your heart rate and breathing rate will also decrease. Now it becomes difficult to wake up. Your brain continues to slow down, but this slowing down is interrupted by brief episodes of increased brain activity called sleep spindles. Studies have shown that sleep spindles can stop the brain from waking up during the REM phase of sleep.

Third Stage Of Sleep

Your sleep enters the third stage in the sleep cycle, called the slow-wave stage of sleep. Now your body is at its highest restful state. Important physical processes that only happen during sleep are said to take place at this stage. For example, the regulation of hormones, the release of human growth hormones, detoxification of the brain, and consolidation of memories all occur during the slow-wave stage.

Fourth Stage Of Sleep

As our bodies go deeper into sleep, they reach the fourth and final stage known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Our dreams take place at this stage. The muscles are paralysed by sleep, but the brain waves are active as if you are almost awake.

REM sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy memory and other cognitive functions. The first half of the night is the time when you go into deep sleep, while in the second half more time is spent in REM sleep.

These four stages of sleep are essential for our health. Each sleep cycle lasts between 100 and 120 minutes, therefore you go through four or five of them in the course of one night.

Since sleep cycles are so important, six hours are certainly not enough to go through recommended sleep hours. You might find a few people who are managing with six hours of sleep, however, the majority will find it difficult to function with only six hours, and will certainly find relief in an additional hour of sleep or two.

Recommended Sleep Patterns By Age Group

Let us take a look at the following list of recommended sleeping hours for different age groups.


Newborns need to sleep between 14 and 17 hours daily, although some disruptions might lower this threshold to 11 or 13 hours. A newborn should not sleep less than 11 hours.


Infants are required to spend between 12 and 16 hours of sleep daily, including naps.


Toddlers are supposed to sleep 11 to 14 hours per day, including naps. However, some toddlers may get as little as 9 hours.


Preschoolers recommended sleep hours are between 10 and 10, with or without naps.

Young people and children (6-12 years of age)

Children need 9-12 hours of sleep per night.

Youth (13-18 years of age) (13-18 years of age)

Adolescents are supposed to have 8-10 hours of sleep.

Mature adults (18-60 years of age)

Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to be able to function normally, staying alert and healthy.

Senior citizens (65 years of age and older)

Seniors can function perfectly well with 7-8 hours of sleep.

Possible Reasons Why You Are Not Getting Enough Sleep?

From problems in falling or staying asleep, plenty of things can lead to a lack of sleep.The following factors can all negatively impact the amount and quality of sleep you’re getting.


Consuming stimulants like caffeine and alcohol regularly and before bedtime makes falling asleep a challenge. Even sleeping pills can cause trouble at times. Stimulants like alcohol trigger feelings of tiredness, but they do not lead to a deep and sound sleep.

Sleeping pills can also look tempting as a sleeping aid. If you use them occasionally, you will likely get good results, but as you swallow more of them, their efficacy diminishes over time, and your body becomes dependent on them to fall asleep.

Shift Work

People who work in rotating shifts can have difficulties managing their sleep and maintaining a regular-sleep cycle. When you stay awake all night to perform your night shift, your circadian rhythm is thrown off, and your sleep hours will be significantly reduced. Although adapting to sleep loss varies from one person to another, it still has detrimental effects on one’s health.

Eating And Drinking Late

Eating late at night might make your sleep suffer. As food raises your blood sugar levels, insulin response can disrupt your sleep. However, going to bed on an empty stomach has the same negative effect on your sleep. As you go to bed hungry, your cortisol levels will rise, and your transition to deeper sleep levels will be hindered by cortisol spikes.

Poor food selections before bedtime may give you heartburn, discomfort in the chest, or bloating that interfere with your sleep and cause you to stay awake.

Therefore, it is best to eat a few hours before bedtime and stay away from late-night snacks. You can satisfy your hunger with something as light as a little bit of peanut butter, or even some water or some tea.


Normal sleeping patterns are disrupted by stress. When you are stressed, sleep is likely to evade you as your brain is alert and processing the stress that you’re feeling.

Stress causes sleep disruptions because it keeps your parasympathetic nervous system awake. Your fight-or-flight response prevents you from getting a restful night’s sleep. To try and alleviate this, make sure you have time to relax by doing some routines before going to bed such as meditating, keeping a journal, or doing some breathing exercises, so that your body feels at ease before falling asleep.

If you feel that you are not able to handle stress alone, talk to your healthcare provider to help you deal better with stress.


Sleep disorders also interfere with sleep quality and patterns. Insomnia can throw off our normal sleep patterns for days or weeks. Other sleep disorders such as night terrors or sleep apnea also affect the quality of your sleep. Chronic sleep disorders need follow-up with doctors to find ways to restore your sound sleep. Doctors can provide you with the right treatment for your problem.

Healthy Habits To Develop To Aid Sleep 

When we listen carefully to our body, we will receive signals from our circadian rhythm on when to go to sleep, and when we should wake up. Throwing off this cycle with the interference of different factors will lead to a host of unpleasant side effects that prevent us from healthy sleep habits.

Here are some suggestions to improve your sleeping routine and facilitate falling and staying asleep throughout the night.

Follow A Sleep Schedule

A key routine to improve sleep is maintaining a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will have optimal results on your health. A regular sleep routine reduces risks of developing heart disease and diabetes and prevents worsening of existing heart conditions.

Watch What You Eat

Avoid eating heavy and large meals or snacking before bedtime. Even drinking too much fluids can interfere with sleep as your night trips to the bathroom may increase. Eating and drinking shortly before going to bed will deprive you of a restful night’s sleep.

Avoid Distractions

It is tempting to use your electronic screens, turn on bright lights or listen to loud music in your bedroom however, these distractions will prevent you from enjoying the best night’s sleep that you can.

Try to turn off your phone before bed. Turn down the lights, and choose a good book that will help you relax as you read. Your bedtime routine should not involve any distractions since these can keep your mind alert and prevent you from falling asleep.

Sleep Medication

Sleeping pills are a good solution for some people who sleep poorly, but for others it may work the other way, leading to more sleeping trouble. These pills are not recommended for everyone, and should be taken only under the supervision of a GP in cases of chronic sleep deprivation.

So, Is 6 Hours of Sleep per Night Enough?

6 hours of sleep will barely provide your body with the energy needed to regenerate itself and stay healthy for most people so generally speaking no, 6 hours of sleep is not enough to function effectively.

Although some people adapt to sleep deprivation better than others, the chronic effects of lack of sleep threaten cognitive performance, and lead to weight gain and depression, in addition to a host of other problems.

Ensuring that you have enough sleep every night so that you protect your health from the adverse effects of sleep deprivation is best for long term health and wellbeing.


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