02.How much do we need
How much sleep we need is a question that still puzzles scientists. The standard answer is seven to eight hours a night, but the truth is more complicated. As with so many things, our genes largely dictate how much sleep we need and our sensitivity to sleep deprivation. Some people can tolerate large deficits with few problems, while others struggle with the loss of a couple of hours. The key is to know your body and get the right amount of sleep for you.
At the NYU Sleep Disorders Center in New York City, Dr David Rapoport coordinates the Sleep Research Program. One test they perform has the patient pressing a button every time they see a light flash, to test their alertness and reaction time. Many of his sleepdeprived subjects perform poorly at this exercise – they stop responding and then fall asleep in the chair.
While this test may sound quite straightforward, it actually illustrates something very significant. “We don’t fall asleep if we are well rested,” says Rapoport. ”If you’re falling asleep in boring situations, that is a sure marker you are not getting quite enough sleep.”
So the next time you fall asleep during a dull film, remember this may say more about you than the skills of the director – it could be your body’s way of telling you to hit the hay more often.