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That depends. There are many factors, including:
The amount of sleep one needs definitely varies with the individual. Typically, eight hours a night is considered the average amount of sleep needed in a twenty-four hour cycle for a human adult. The best way to find out how much sleep you need is by trial and error. Find out how much you need in order to feel refreshed in the morning and to stay alert during the day on a regular basis.
Some people seem to get along fine with very little sleep at night. The video "Secrets of Sleep," reports on several individuals who lead productive lives with very little sleep (ranging from 1-5 hours a night) and the belief that their need for less sleep may be genetic. (1)
The two famous scientists Einstein and Edison had very different sleep patterns. (2). Thomas Edison is said to claimed sleep to be a waste of time. He did, however take naps during the day. Albert Einstein, on the other hand, was aware of his sleep needs, acknowledging that he needed ten hours of sleep for optimum performance.
This wide range of sleep needs appears natural. Researchers have determined there are two types of sleepers: the long sleepers and the short sleepers. Long sleepers need many hours of sleep, while short sleepers need a few hours less. By taking a closer look at both types of sleepers, it has been found that short sleepers spend a proportionally large amount of time in REM and Stage-4. Long sleepers, on the other hand, spend a proportionally large amount of time in stage 2 sleep.
People have stayed awake for days in a row. In 1965, Randy Gardner stayed awake for 11 days, 12 minutes (3) In this experiment, Gardner did experience lack of coordination, hallucinations, blurred vision, muscle tremors, slurred speech, memory lapses, and concentration difficulties as a result of lack of sleep. (4) In 1980, Robert McDonald of California was reported to have stayed awake for a record 18 days 21 hours 40 minutes. (5) However, sleep deprivation is not something with which a person should experiment. It can be very dangerous to your health and the safety of you and those around you. Lack of sleep is not a light matter. Fatal Familial Insomnia is a rare disease that leads to death due to inability to sleep.
(1) "Secrets of Sleep." [Video recording] WGBH and BBC - TV. New York: Time-Life Multimedia, 1976.
(2) Information on Einstein & Edison's sleep patterns taken from
"Reviews and Commentary for Power Sleep : The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance" [Excerpts from the book: "Power Sleep" by Dr. James B. Maas.] Last modified: May 15, 1999. Date viewed: July 17, 1999 URL: http://netmall.net/wishfuldrinking/sleepbook.html
(3) power sleep. p. 45
(4) sleep thieves, p. 50-54
(5) p. 29 encycl,
(6) Gerin, Sandrine. [Bien dormir c'est facile. Italian] "Dormire bene si può". Tranduzione di Maddalena Togliani. [Translated by Maddalena Togliani]. Milano, Nuova Pratiche Editrice, 1998, pp.22-27
(7) Dr. Manzel, Peter-Paul. "Gesunder Schlaf". Ed. Ratgeber Gesundheit. München, Mosaik Verlag, 1998, pp.16-19.
(8) Dr. Wenzel, Petra; Dr. Hanke, Günther and Dr. Uhl, Doris. "Nervosität und Schlafstörung- was tun?". Ed. Patienten-Beratung. Stuttgart, Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1997, pp.11-15
(9) Hobson, J. Allan. [Sleep. German] "Schlaf: Gehirnaktivität im Ruhestand". Aus dem Amerikan. übers. von Ingrid Horn. [Translated by Ingrid Horn]. Heidelberg, Spektrum der Wissenschaft Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 1990, pp.80-87, 90-101
(10) Dr. Manzel, Peter-Paul. "Gesunder Schlaf". Ed. Ratgeber Gesundheit. München, Mosaik Verlag, 1998, pp.16-19.[an error occurred while processing this directive]