Optimal Sleep Duration and Regularity for Health

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Walker explains that good sleep is not just about quantity, but also quality, regularity, and timing. He recommends adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but emphasizes that most people need about 90 minutes more than they are currently getting.

Quality of sleep is measured by continuity, or how fragmented the sleep is by awakenings. Sleep efficiency is the percentage of time spent asleep while in bed, with 85% or higher considered healthy.

Huberman asks how we should think about sleep and what variables we need to consider to optimize it. Walker breaks it down into what he calls the four macros of sleep: quantity, quality, regularity, and timing (QqRT).

The Importance of Sleep Regularity for Health and Longevity

Walker and Huberman discuss the importance of regular sleep patterns for overall health and mortality risk. A recent study of over 60,000 individuals found that those with the most regular sleep had a 49% reduced risk of mortality compared to those with highly irregular sleep. Regular sleep was associated with a 35% decrease in cancer mortality and a 60% decrease in cardiovascular mortality risk.

The study also found that sleep regularity was almost twice as predictive of mortality risk as sleep duration, although both are important factors. Walker emphasizes the importance of going to bed and waking up at consistent times, with a maximum variation of 30 minutes.

Walker and Huberman suggest that a combination of sleep quantity, quality, regularity, and timing (QQRT) is the best predictor of overall health and wellness. While each factor is important on its own, the collective impact of all four factors seems to explain the most variance in health outcomes.

More From this Episode

Leave a Comment