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The Eight Hour Dilemma: Sleeping Time Reduction. When a Single Hour Makes a Difference Research Paper


Introduction: Sleeping as an Active Brain Exercise

There is hardly anything as important for a human body as sleeping. Allowing a human body to recover from hard work and putting the information obtained in the course of the day in order, sleep is the organism function that cannot be replaced by any sort of rest. However, the amount of the time which is best to spend for sleep is quite questionable.

While the established norm of sleep length remains eight hours, some people tend to sleep considerably more, stretching their period of organism recovery to more than nine hours, which raises the question whether oversleeping or the lack of sleep have drastic effect on the human body and mind or whether an hour over or under the established norm of sleep can be considered an acceptable deviation.

However, according to certain researches conducted on the issue of sleeping, a nine-hour sleep or even longer periods of rest can have negative effects on people’s health, causing numerous health problems. Although everything that goes below or above the norm does not seem to have good effect, especially when it comes to such issues as human organism, individual specifics of human body should also be taken into account when dealing with the problem of sleep.

Therefore, the individual factor must also be taken into consideration when dealing with the given issue. Whether a nine-hour sleep or even more time spent sleeping can cause harmful effects and lead to drastic effects can be the pivoting point for raising the norm for sleeping from eight to nine hours and more.

Quality Instead of Quantity: Reducing the Sleeping Time

The idea that a man should sleep no more than eight hours has been dominating the field of somnology for a considerably long time; moreover, it is still believed that eight hours are the ultimate decision for those who have decided to lead a healthy lifestyle and get rid of diseases. However, whether the idea has aged well is yet to be seen; the fact that a man needs strictly eight hours of nightly rest could have worn out its welcome already, which is which is required to check the veracity of the eight-hours idea.

However, there are certain obstacles for the eight-hour regime to be considered the ultimate amount of time for healthy sleeping regime. According to the results of the research held by Gangwisch, Malaspina, Boden-Albala, & Heymsfield (2005), the lack of sleep and obesity are related; moreover, sleep deprivation triggers the weight gain, as the researchers claim: “Subjects who got 2 to 4 hours of sleep per night at baseline gained the most weight over the follow-up period, while subjects who got 10 or more hours of sleep gained the least weight” (1295).

However, it can be argued that in the given study, the gap between the group who slept longer and the ones who had a short sleep was great – while the latter had their ten-hour sleep, the amount of hours for the former to sleep was reduced to 2-4 hours.

While reducing the amount of sleeping hours to seven and less can possibly lead to sleep deprivation and the further changes for the worse in a human body, eight hours are no longer the borderline between oversleeping and having a lack of sleep.

As the research shows, the eight hours do not suffice for a healthy lifestyle; moreover, feeling considerable lack of sleep, one is most likely to compensate it with consuming large amounts of food, which will necessarily lead to weight gain or even to obesity. However, the results of oversleeping are yet to be seen and compared to the ones of sleeping full eight hours.

Eight Hours Is an Absolute Minimum: The Counterargument

However, to solve the problem, one must take a look at all of its facets, including the opinions of the opposition. In the given case, the idea of stretching the sleep to nine or more hours can be viewed as an opportunity to help the people who need more time to sleep to adapt to the norms of society.

Much like the results of sleeping eight hours or less, the results of sleeping nine to ten hours are also a slight weight gain and even the development of pneumonia, as Patel, Malhorta, Gao, Hu, Neuman, & Fawzi (2012) explain: “Perceived inadequate sleep was also associated with in-creased pneumonia risk” (98).

As the authors mention, “total of 977 cases of pneumonia were identified over 217,500 person-years of follow up. Short sleep was associated with increased pneumonia risk” (98). Therefore, sleeping less than eight hours can be considered risky and quite unreasonable.

Thus, it can be deduced that repeated oversleeping is rather hazardous for people’s health, which is why stretching the sleeping norm to nine hours does not seem reasonable.

Despite the fact that a nine-hour regime might seem legit for certain type of people and in case of certain health conditions, it is still desirable for most of the population to adapt to the eight-hour sleep. Like any other extreme, the case of sleeping less than demanded cannot have positive results for a human health. As Hamilton, Nelson, Stevens, & Kitsman, (2007) explain, “sleep relates to both positive and negative functioning” (160).

Taking the above-mentioned suggestion into account, one should come to the idea that both the idea of sleeping exactly eight or under eight hours as well as sleeping nine and more hours have their positive and negative aspects which are also influenced by the outside factors, such as the initial state of health of the given person or a group of people, the age, the gender and other characteristics.

To Sleep or not to Sleep? Encouraging the Eight-Hour Routine

Judging by the facts offered above, the amount of hours for sleep can and should be reduced to eight. With all the negative effects that oversleeping does to the human organism, an eight-hour sleep seems the most efficient solution, since it does not cause harm and yet allows to regain a man’s vigor.

According to Venkatraman, Huettel, Chuach, Payne, & Chee’s research (2011), a reasonable sleep deprivation (SD) can have a positive effect: “Considered together, SD appears to create an optimism bias; for example, participants behave as if positive consequences are more likely (or more valuable) and as if negative consequences are less likely (or less harmful)” (3716).

However, the results of the given research can be argued. It is not only the optimistic attitude that was expected from the patients, but also the improved state of health, which can hardly be observed in the given case. It must be admitted that the participants did feel somewhat more energetic and were ready for performing certain work, which means that a short sleep gave them a certain charge of energy. However, the question is whether the given state was an exact state of affairs or merely a case of autosuggestion.

When It Comes to Individual Features: Sleeping All the Way

In addition, according to the researches made comparatively recently, oversleeping can lead to health issues. Since it is extremely hard to draw the line between a mere deviation from the norm and the dangerous negligence of the sleeping standard, it is required that even those who sleep nine hours a day should restrict their daily sleep to eight hours. However, it is worth remembering that the famous eight-hour regime is a model, which, when applied to real life, can be bent.

Taking into account the individual peculiarities of a certain person, one can supposedly stretch the sleeping time to nine hours. As Tamakoshi & Ohno (2004) claim, “The most frequent self-reported sleep duration was 8 hours among men and 7 hours among women, with average respective sleep durations of 7.48 hours and 7.12 hours” (52), which means that the average sleep duration should be reduced.

According to Patel, Malhorta, Gao, Hu, Neuman, & Fawzi (2012), the amount of hours for sleeping can be adjusted to the age for better results; however, the outcomes of their research show that, disregarding the age and the gender, the eight-hour sleep proved to be the most efficient way to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Of course, the individual specifics of human organism are not to be underestimated; while ones might need eight hours of sleep, for others, seven hours can suffice, and some might demand nine hours according to their own bodily functions and features. Nevertheless,

Conclusion: Individual Body Specifics vs. Common Sense

It goes without saying that only when having enough sleep, a human organism can function well. However, it is also important to keep in mind that oversleeping is just as harmful as having lack of sleep, which is why eight hours has been established as the norm.

Taking into account the evidence offered above, one must mark that the negative effects of the lack of sleep are incredibly threatening for human health. Comparing them with the ones of sleeping eight hours a day, one must admit that the newly suggested 9/10-hour sleep is much safer. While eight hours of sleep is considered a norm and is, in fact, the maximum number of sleeping hours without any possible harmful effect on people, a ten-hour sleep offers a short relief yet can possibly lead to health problems.

If looking at the two alternatives back to back, one must point out that the ten-hour sleep results in a short recovery after a working day and, while it triggers such immediate effects as sleepiness in the morning, it actually does not harm human organism. Meanwhile, eight hours or less spent in bed lead to the feeling of having a good sleep, yet will necessarily result further on in certain diseases, such as a step-by-step weight increase, migraines, etc., which presupposes that ten hours of sleep suffice for good sleep.

Reference List

Gangwisch, J. E., Malaspina, D., Boden-Albala, B., & Heymsfield, S. B. (2005). Inadequate sleep as a risk factor for obesity: analyses of the NHANES I. SLEEP, 28(10), 1289-1296.

Hamilton, N. A., Nelson, C. A., Stevens, N. & Kitsman, H. (2007). Sleep and psychological well-being. Social Indications Research, 82(1), 147-163.

Patel, S. R., Malhorta, A., Gao, X., Hu, F. B., Neuman, M. I., Fawzi, W. W. (2012). A prospective study of sleep duration and pneumonia risk in women. SLEEP, 35(1), 97-101.

Tamakoshi, A., & Ohno, Y. (2004). Self-reported sleep duration as a predictor of all-case mortality: results from the JACC study, Japan. SLEEP, 27(1), 51-54.

Venkatraman, V., Huettel, S. A., Chuach, Y. M. L., Payne, J. W., & Chee, M. W. L. (2011).

Sleep deprivation biased the neural mechanisms underlying economic preferences. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(10), 3712-3718.

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IvyPanda. "The Eight Hour Dilemma: Sleeping Time Reduction. When a Single Hour Makes a Difference." May 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-eight-hour-dilemma-sleeping-time-reduction-when-a-single-hour-makes-a-difference-research-paper/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Eight Hour Dilemma: Sleeping Time Reduction. When a Single Hour Makes a Difference." May 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-eight-hour-dilemma-sleeping-time-reduction-when-a-single-hour-makes-a-difference-research-paper/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Eight Hour Dilemma: Sleeping Time Reduction. When a Single Hour Makes a Difference'. 3 May.

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