Study: If You Only Get This Many Hours of Sleep a Night, You Might As Well Not Be Sleeping at All

There's a pretty good chance you fall into this too-little-sleep camp.

I get it, the new season of House of Cards was recently released and you have to catch up before you’re the person screaming at everyone to shut up at the very mention of Frank Underwood. But those late-night Netflix marathons could be doing some serious damage to your productivity the next day.

A sleep deprivation study, published in the journal Sleep, found that subjects who slept six hours a night over the course of two weeks functioned just as poorly as subjects who were deprived of sleep for two straight days, Fast Company reports.

Here’s how the study went down: Researchers split 48 healthy adult subjects between the ages of 21 and 38 into four groups, each with its own sleep period. These sleep periods were four hours, six hours and eight hours long, and one group was totally deprived of sleep for two nights straight. All groups, except for the two-night sleep deprivation group, maintained this sleep pattern for two weeks. After each night, the subjects’ cognitive performance, mood and overall sleepiness were observed.

By the end of the two weeks, subjects who got eight hours of sleep a night were still performing well, while the groups that slept for four and six hours eventually exhibited the same cognitive performance deficits as the poor folks who’d had no sleep for two days straight. Those with only four hours gradually performed worse each day, while people who slept six hours started seeing the negative effects take form around day 10.

Interestingly enough, the six-hour sleep group didn’t rate their own sleepiness levels as increasing by much throughout the experiment. This means you could be totally unaware of the negative effects of your poor sleep habits, but don’t get it twisted: getting at least the recommended seven hours of sleep — which a huge number of us Pennsylvanians don’t get — is vital to your daytime energy and productivity. So take it easy on the late-night TV. Those episodes will still be there in the morning — your sanity might not be.

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Be Well Philly — here’s how: