If you could do one, single thing to improve your quality of life the most within the next day, it would be getting a full night's sleep. If you had any doubts about how important it is to clock in those seven hours minimum, this man who tried sleeping in micro-naps, experimenting with a non-monophasic pattern of sleeping (which means you sleep in intervals, not all at once) is proof that sleep is serious business.
Most people sleep seven to eight hours consecutively. It's important to note that not every person will need the same amount of sleep at the same time, but that generally speaking, if you have a human body, you'll need about seven hours of sleep each night to function optimally.
Some people who want to challenge this notion attempt "polyphasic sleeping," which is a method where you get your rest in multiple phases throughout the day. In theory, it allows them to function on less sleep. Some people report enhanced productivity as well. However, in practice, it's not something most people can sustain. In this experiment, performed by BuzzFeed staffer Ryan Bergara, it's clear that the issue isn't really whether or not you're going to attempt a new, more challenging (and less realistic) sleeping pattern, but the fact that many people are getting such little sleep without even realizing the damage it's doing to their bodies and minds.
Ryan tried the "Everyman" sleep schedule, which is where you sleep for four and a half hours each night, and then take two 20-minute naps during the day (it means he gets a little over five hours of sleep each day). This was an alternative to the "Uberman" schedule, which is the most controversial form of polyphasic sleeping, where people sleep for six 20-minute periods throughout the day. It cuts their sleep time down to two hours by more or less tricking them into not "feeling" tired (though you can't trick your body into resting, healing, regenerating, and so on, which is why it's so potentially unhealthy and controversial).
Under the consultation of sleep specialist Dr. Alon Avidan (who, it should be noted, warned that this wasn't a great idea), Ryan tried to get through an entire week on this sleep schedule. On day one, he was just tired. By day two, the repercussions of such little rest were already taking their toll. It was hard for him to complete daily functions, and as Avidan warned, there were issues such as lower reactivity time, memory issues, cognitive issues, lack of creativity and increased irritability. By day five he was, as he describes, "weird." He was giggling uncontrollably and eventually had to cave and go to sleep. He says he absolutely does not recommend trying this at home, which is also another way of saying that you should evaluate if you're already getting this little sleep as it is... and consider the repercussions you don't even realize it's having.
Images: YouTube; Unsplash