Ideally, everyone should try to get at least eight hours of sleep.

But for some people, that simply isn't possible.

Be it having multiple jobs at varying hours, children waking you up every hour, or being plagued by insomnia, some people will simply have to do their best with what little sleep they can get.

But, how do they do it?

And better yet, should they be doing it?


Redditor Neftroshi was eager to learn the answer to these questions, leading them to ask:

"People of reddit who survive on less than 8 hours of sleep, how?"

One Does What One Must

"Hatred and the need to pay bills."- Inside_Ice_6175

"Hate myself, decide I'm going to bed earlier tonight, fail, repeat."- cmac4ster

Two Easy Steps

"Step 1 : ignore all the cries for help your body releases."

"Step 2: there is no step 2."- Lacrus314

We'd All Like To Know...

"I have a co-worker who is a cleaner in a psych hospital who is 50, only works nights and says she only sleeps 3 or 4 hours a day."

"Don't know how she does it."- weezybreezy747

You Find Ways Of Compensating.

"I do this neat little trick where I borrow a few hours from the end of my life every time I don't get enough sleep."

"Been doing it for years and I don't see any potential problems or downsides."- MatTheScarecrow

Sense Memory...

"I remember one time in my life were I woke up feeling fully refreshed and I've never forgot that moment ever since."- Able_Visual955

Just Act Like It's Not An Issue

"I usually get somewhere between 5-7 hours sleep, there is a constant feeling of tiredness but at some point you just learn to ignore it or get used to it and carry on."- the_starlight_girl

A Professional Opinion

"Friendly neighborhood sleep scientist stopping in."

"Most adults need 8-9 hours to function optimally."

"This is supported by a pretty robust body of research."

"Shorter sleep duration than this is associated with performance decrements across a variety of domains, and there is evidence for negative impacts on physiological health in the short and long term as well."

"Sleep is key to processes like restoration in various physical systems."

"There is also growing evidence that short sleep interferes with the consolidation of memory from short- to long-term storage."

"Sleep and relationships also appear to affect each other reciprocally."

"Good relationships promote good sleep, and bad sleep can hurt relationship functioning."

"Tl;dr—it’s bad for you bro (for the vast majority of people, anyway), even if it feels like it isn’t."

"Sleeping too much is also associated with negative outcomes."

"For example, sleeping more than 9 hours is predictive of elevated cardiovascular risk."

"There is limited but growing evidence that some people are true 'short sleepers' who may experience fewer or no apparent negative cognitive effects of short sleep."

"This phenomenon is poorly understood, but is being investigated increasingly."

"Research is slowed in part by the difficulty of finding participants who are true short sleepers, but it is clear that most of us are not in this category, even if we think we are."

"The truth, according to the best available evidence, is that the vast majority of adults NEED 8 hours for best results."

"It is also critical to note that it is not clear whether people who feel like they experience no negative effects from short sleep are at lower risk for well-established physiological costs of short sleep, such as elevated cardiovascular risk."

"Emerging evidence is beginning to suggest that even if you feel you are not experiencing psychological or physical costs of short sleep, your actual physical health costs may be the same as for people who do feel the cognitive effects of short sleep."

"See for example, Williams et al., 2021."

"You can improve the quality of your sleep by prioritizing 'sleep hygiene'.”

"This includes having a regular bed/wake time each day, even on the weekends."

"There’s no such thing as catching up on lost sleep, not in a true sense."

'You can’t undo the damage completely."

"Further, some evidence is beginning to indicate that the tempting practice of sleeping in on weekends to try to repay sleep debt has negative effects beyond the sleep that has already been lost."

"A consistent bed/wake schedule is one of the best gifts you can give yourself."

"Other tips you may have heard include minimizing light exposure, especially to blue light, for a few hours before bed."

"There is limited evidence about the effectiveness of things like phones’ native settings for blue light reduction, so consider getting some filter glasses to put on when you are approaching bedtime, and avoid screens."

"Other good resources are available via you googling it."

"You may think you are getting more sleep than you are."

"Smartphones and wearables can help track your sleep to try to assess how much you’re getting."

"Alexa can alert you if you snore at night, which can indicate sleep problems."

"This tech isn’t as good as research-grade sleep actigraphy or polysomnography, but it’s getting better."

"If you go this route, be sure you don’t get obsessive about the data and quantifying or gamifying it."

"Good sleep is the goal, not making your phone happy at all costs."

"Caffeine is definitely worth thinking about when thinking about your sleep hygiene as well."

"For example, my sleep is fairly delicate, but getting better, thanks to science!, so I won't start a new serving of coffee after noon or finish one after 2 p.m."

"Caffeine can compound sleep problems because, although it can help you get through the day, it is very easy to then have it interfere with nighttime sleep latency.'

"How long it takes you to fall asleep, quality, or quantity."

"If you are using caffeine to get through the day because you're tired and dragging, it may well feel useful within days, but be detrimental to your sleep and performance across days."

"It's like putting a bandaid over a fresh wound to cover it immediately, but then ripping it off that night before the underlying problem has healed."

"If caffeine is interfering with your sleep quality, consider switching to something caffeine-free to fill that space as an afternoon ritual."

"You may find that the break in your routine still helps refresh you without interfering with a good night's rest."

"You can use your phone or other smart devices to remind you to start winding down and getting ready for bed in advance of your bedtime."

"I have my spare speakers remind me with phrases like 'You're a sleep scientist, go to bed, it's important' and 'Go to bed now; it promotes a healthy immune system'."

"Additionally, pretty much any flatscreen TV has, buried in its annoying, hard-to-navigate settings menu, an auto-off timer feature."

"Do some quick googling to figure out where this setting is on your TV and set it to turn off at a certain time each day."

"Similarly, if you have smart plugs or switches in your home, you can set them to turn lights off at a given time."

"Mine are set to go off in advance of my Mandatory Bedtime."

"You only have to set this up once, and then every night, your smart home will help nudge you toward bed."

"Sure, you might be tempted to turn the TV on to finish an episode or to turn the lights back on and finish the chapter you're reading, but anything you can do to decrease friction in the direction of your target bedtime and good sleep hygiene will help."

"I once heard a very eminent colleague speak on this subject and he said 'If you were a sleep scientist, if you understood sleep and its importance the way I do, you would never shortchange yourself on another night of it'."

"I found that quite sobering because I am a sleep scientist, I do understand the importance, and I was still shortchanging myself."

"Many cultures today have succumbed to the 'glorification of business,' in which it is seen as some kind of badge of honor to not 'need' much sleep."

"For almost all of us, however, 8-9 is the magic number and we can't shortchange that fact...just ourselves."- LilSebastianFlyte

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