Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How much sleep should the body get?

  1. Dec 14, 2004 #1


    User Avatar

    How much sleep should the body get? Is it really dependent upon the individual?

    Is there a minimum we should all get?

    I have heard the most important time is around 3 am, or 4 am because the body produces, releases melotonin (hope i'm not confusing that word with skin cancer word, because that's not what i mean).

    During certain times, I am able to get by on very little sleep and am able to function at my maximum and then some.

    I slept two and a half hours last night. A few nights ago I had two hours sleep. In between that I slept seven hours.

    I have heard that Einstein slept only four hours a night. So? We weren't related. I'm talking about ME! :devil:

    My body does balances itself out. I do take a "sleep aid" faithfullyy that I intend to find an alternative to. It seems during the fall/winter my body seems to want less sleep. My sleep pattern during those seasons is irregulary regularly predictable.

    This morning when I woke at 1:17 a.m. my first reaction was "Oh sheet." All my short term stress was because somewhere in my lopsided brain is this old tapes that says, "You must sleep seven to eight hours every night, never two hours"

    When I decided to do something constructive, turn on the pc and head to this forum it was good. I'm not tripping over canvas's of jesus, nor am i taking apart electrical appliances or mowing the river. My time is quality time that I spend with me when I choose to go with little sleep.

    If not tomorrow, then the next night, my body will stay asleep between four to seven hours.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Melatonin is produced at highest levels at night. There is a rate-limiting enzyme involved in its synthesis from tryptophan that is upregulated at night. There's nothing special about 3 to 4 AM compared to any other time of darkness. If you don't feel tired, then you're probably getting enough sleep for you. If you do feel tired or stressed, then you might not be getting enough sleep. We live in artificial environments with lots of bright lights around us. If you spend a lot of your indoor time in brightly lit rooms, you may have shifted your melatonin patterns enough that you sleep at irregular times.
  4. Dec 14, 2004 #3
    Personally, not sleeping much has never bothered me. As long as I don't feel particularly tired and such the next day.. it's ok. I've been regularly getting about 3 or 4 hours a night for the past few years, and it really hasn't slowed me down yet. I just sleep when I get tired, and wake up naturally a few hours later. I have consulted my doctors about it, but they seem to not be too concerned.
  5. Dec 14, 2004 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Generally, if you wake up naturally after only a few hours of sleep and your doctors have given you the all-clear, then you don't need more. If you were dragging along all day or taking stimulants to keep you going, then you might have reason to be concerned it's not enough sleep.
  6. Dec 15, 2004 #5


    User Avatar


    Moonbear and cyby, thank you.

    I don't spend much time indoors with flourescent lights. I normally burn candles, and keep one lamp on (soft light). I am light sensitive due to depakote that I take. I now take only one 250 milligram tab (my MD knows this), and I have been for the last two years. I did take 3,000 mgs. short term (to slow down) back in '94.

    After the depakote was introduced into my system, I remember telling my doc one day, "I have never been suicidal, ever, since dep I am contemplating driving off a cliff, know of any good ones?" He was a hangglidder :wink: He immediately dropped me to 1500 mgs., and said I should never drop below those levels because the theraputic value won't be happening.

    I tend to be "hyper" for lack of a better word in my world. I simply go too fast sometimes, and that is why I take depakote. My brain works faster than the speed of light. Yes, it's fun, for me :smile: but it does make learning difficult. I love to read, I love to learn, I love this forum, but my energy level at times creates difficulties that I'm trying to work with. I don't read novels, never have, I don't have the attention span (one example) or the desire. There are things on this site and in books that I have to read over and over and over to retain the info and due to lack of focus - sometimes. At age 46, I will never give up trying.

    Sometimes I get too scattered which makes an organizational nut like me, phreak, totally unorganized is my definition of insanity. I do not suffer depression (outside of what you do-the normal stuff) and never have. My brain just goes too fast sometimes. It has always deeply disturbed me that it makes learning difficult. On retention - maybe the zinc will help me with that now.

    I love the whole QM trip. I do. I've read and read and to describe it to someone, well I could in eleven words or less. Most things on this forum I grasp intuitively, I do, but I want to connect the dots in between so I can better understand (the entire process) and communicate with others better.

    Back to my sleep patterns (unpredictable during the fall/winter), I am trying to get a grip on... last night I did "catch up." I slept two hours, woke up then I loaded up on cheese, protien, and some carbs. It did knock me out (with xanax, i take for sleep only). I probably knocked me out of my new dress :frown: from all the cheese. After pigging out, I went back to sleep and awoke at 3 a.m.. I feel great, but I don't want to use cheese (probably the trptophan) to knock me out. I haven't overdosed on cheese in a long time. I wonder if it is the trypto That's a thought. Thank you for mentioning that in your response Moonbear. Maybe it's time to purchase tryptophan again (boy that is expensive, or at least it used to be). I took it roughly twenty years ago during my pumping iron (to slow the mind down) period. I don't remember the effects, I just remember the cost of it lol.

    I don't want to take xanax forever at night. I take very little, and I want to stay off that and learn to sleep naturally, or with natural substances like tryp, or maybe there is something better (not chamomille tea :cry: ) now that I'm ready to wean myself off what few meds I still take. My liver is probably really tired.

    As I already stated I am presently only taking one 250mg tab, and I've decided pretty much to stop that. It occurred to me that my body receiving that information from my mind already may be reacting even though I have yet to stop the last bit of dep I still take.

    Cyby ~ I am working toward something similar. Regular four/three or six hours I would be cool with. It's just going to take some patients on my end this time :zzz: It's the irregularity and unpredictability that I'm trying to understand, so then, like you, will get by on few hours sleep comfortably.

    Thank you both very much for further stimulating my thinker :surprised
  7. Dec 15, 2004 #6
    Xanax no longer helps me sleep. But I think that is just me. I do think a little alcohol every night helps, but I shouldn't be drinking due to other health concerns.

    I will be the first to admit though, that I have a really weird sleep schedule - I go to bed in the early morning and wake up during mid morning...

    Then again, I come from a family of insomniacs....
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook