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After a recent medical examination, the president of United States, Donald Trump, was listed as needing only 4 hours sleep a night.

A fact that his doctor has controversially praised, angering many in the medical community. Yet, Donald Trump isn’t the only powerful leader or business executive to claim to get by on such little sleep – many of the world’s most proficient business people have attributed their success to being able to sleep less and work more. This includes former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, fashion designer Tom Ford and pop singer Rihanna. But can any of us really be successful on just 4 hours of sleep a night?

Can You be Successful on 4 Hours Sleep a NightJust about any doctor or sleep expert you ask will agree that 4 hours sleep a night is a ludicrous notion. In fact, most of them will advise that sleeping less than 7 hours a night on a regular basis will lead to various problems in your life, including irritability, poor productivity, health-issues and poor decision-making. Indeed, numerous research projects have found that a lack of sleep can even impair our senses as much as alcohol does.

One of these research projects – a study from Oxford University – found that after the body had been awake for 17 hours straight, a person’s alertness would be on par with having a blood alcohol level of 0.05%. To put this into perspective, in the UK, the legal limit for alcohol when driving is 0.08%.

The research went on to find that if a person went for 24 hours without sleeping, the mind would have the same reaction time and alertness as a person who had a blood alcohol level of 0.1%. Which is over the UK drink-driving limit, and therefore very concerning.

And yet this isn’t the only impairment that sleeplessness is thought to be the cause of. A lack of sleep is also associated with a number of health issues. In fact, sleep deprivation is often linked to a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, kidney disease, stroke, asthma, arthritis, lung disease and cancer.

When you put all these concerns together, it becomes clear that sleep is vastly important for our mind and health.

It may be that some people can be successful on just 4 hours sleep a night, as the amount of sleep we need a night can be subjective to our own bodies. However, just because a president or pop singer has been successful on such little sleep, you shouldn’t be pressured into less sleep, in order to have more hours awake in which to be productive.

More likely, by drastically cutting the number of hours you sleep a night, you will be far less productive over these hours as your mind will be less focussed. This means you could spend 3-4 hours on a task that, if you had had the adequate amount of sleep your mind needs, you could have completed in half the time. So, really, you’re setting yourself for a false sleep economy.

It is possible to reduce your sleep schedule down from 8-9 hours a night to perhaps 6-7 hours, but this should be done gradually and only if you ensure that the sleep you get is high-quality. But, for the most of us, we should concentrate on sleeping well, rather than trying to follow celebrities who sleep less. 

Image from Donald Trump Biography

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