why does someone need little sleep to function
Last Updated on June 6, 2022 by Peter

Why Does Someone Need Little Sleep To Function?

We know that many famous scientists have said that they had only 4 or 6 hours of sleep per day. So, how come that someone can perform difficult tasks with 6 hours of sleep, and someone can’t put 2 and 2 together without the 8 hours a sleep per night? How much is actually enough sleep?

Some people can really function on 4 hours of sleep, or can they? Is this just an illusion that these people started to believe in overtime? Well, it’s hard to say. Some people can really function on just a 5 or 6 hour of sleep, and others just force themselves to because of their goals and ambition.

For one person 4 hours of sleep is perfectly enough, for the other it’s a pure torture. Now we shall see what are the different factors that can make a person need less or more sleep per day.

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    An illusion - is it really enough sleep, or is it just something you get used to?

    First of all, it is very hard to say whether some people actually get enough sleep from 4 or 6 hours.  They can just persuade themselves that they got the sleep they needed from 4 hours. This is very difficult to determine.

    Some people who want to sleep less because of their ambitions or demanding schedules maybe just believe that they got enough to sleep. It is very hard to distinguish people who really need little sleep from those who just made themselves believe that they do.

    a man resting without sleep

    Microsleep - are people who sleep a little aware of their short daily sleep?

    People who sleep a little during the night may compensate the lack of sleep with short daily intervals of sleep. This is called microsleep. The person is usually not even aware that they were struck by microsleep during the daytime. This is one of the ways that the brain of the person who sleeps a little can acquire enough sleep. So, one way or another, a certain amount of sleep must be obtained.


    Meditation can in some way be a substitute for sleeping. There is not enough scientific research on the subject, but there are many indications that this is very much possible. People who meditate every day can get from meditation what would otherwise need to get from sleep. This can be a technique of acquiring enough sleep from 4 or 6 hours per day.

    Ambition and perfectionism

    People driven by strong ambition may easily get used to little sleep. This doesn’t mean that they really need less sleep. It just means that their ambition is too powerful that they would manage successfully to control their urge for sleep. So, ambitious people and perfections may easily make a habit of sleeping for 4 or 6 hours a night. Eventually, they would recognize this amount as enough sleep.

    an ambitious woman

    Habit and routine

    People can get used to a lot of crazy and demanding things if they make it a routine. People who sleep less usually have very strict schedules that don’t let them squeeze in more hours of sleep. So, if you are disciplined with your busy schedule you may start believing that you are getting enough sleep from 4 or 6 hours.

    Feeling of responsibility

    two men discussing business

    A national thing

    Have you ever travelled to a different country and after a few days said to yourself: When do these people sleep?! Sleeping habits differ a lot from country to country. There are many reasons for this, such as climate, culture and social factors. People in some East Asian, South American or European countries sleep a lot less than in some other countries. This can be explained by the geography, environment or the way of life.

    General lifestyle

    People who get enough sleep from just 4 – 6 hours a night may have a lifestyle that enables this kind of behaviour. They can do a lot of intellectual work, have no physical activity that would tire them, and a rich social life that would leave no space for napping.

    Doing it only for a certain period

    Some people sleep little only during a certain period in their life that demands this. People who dedicate a few, hard working years to some project, study, research or two jobs, may deprive themselves of sleep only during that certain period.

    Different coping skills

    Sleeping and dreaming are some forms or body’s and mind’s repairing and coping techniques. It is being speculated that a very small amount of people is capable of achieving this “recovery” during sleep much faster, for less than 7 hours of rest. Different inherited characteristics or practice of meditation can help a person to cope with demanding tasks without 8 hours of sleep.

    But, this is a bit tricky. People who can get enough sleep from 6 hours and successfully complete intellectual tasks during the day, may, on the other hand, suffer from emotional problems. So, this ability hasn’t been completely explored yet. While some beneficiary aspects of sleep can be acquired from a different source, others just can’t.

    a woman sleeping comfortably at night

    Inherited ability - is it in DNA?

    Now, this is a pretty new scientific discovery. It’s been found that a certain inheritable abnormality in the person’s DNA can reduce the need for sleep. This is a very young discovery and all of its aspects haven’t been completely explained by the experts yet. So, we’ve found out about different things that can cause a person to need less than 8 hours of sleep. Now, let’s find out about things that can make a person need 8 or more hours of sleep!


    Teenagers need to spend about 10 hours sleep in order to get enough sleep. Adults have an ability to manipulate and control the amount of sleep they get, but younger people simply can’t do this.

    Physically active lifestyle

    Athletes and people who have physically demanding jobs need more sleep. This connection between physical activity and the necessary amount of sleep is been studied a lot. People who physically tire themselves during the day need more sleep during the night. It’s also been proven that getting more sleep helps athletes to have the better performance the next day.

    Environmental and cultural factors

    We know that the amount of sunlight has a significant influence on sleep. So, in some countries, people tend to sleep more simply due to the geography and climate. Also, cultural factors can play a big role in sleeping habits. Maybe some people sleep more simply because they picked up that kind of behaviour from their social environment.

    The "dreamers" - personality type dictates sleep requirements

    Some people find that shorter sleeping time helps their aims and ambitions. Others find that the quality sleep helps their performance. Some individuals see that they are able to complete more tasks in a shorter time when they are well rested. So, they see 8 hours of sleep as something that makes them more efficient, not lazy.

    It is not uncommon for some successful people, artists, scientists, to sleep for 8 hours in order to get their thoughts, inspirations and ideas in order. Sleeping, resting and dreaming helps some people to resolve issues and sort out the new ideas they got. So, it all depends on a personality type.

    a woman laying on a grass

    A few last words

    As we have seen, only small amount of people can really get enough sleep for less than 7 hours. The most of the people who sleep less just made a habit of it and are actually sleep deprived. Like many other things, sleeping requirements are an individual thing. They vary from person to person. It is not always easy to get enough sleep and find time to do everything that you want. So, should you get used to 4 hours of sleep in order to fulfil your goals? Or, should you put your health first? When it comes to this dilemma, the best thing would be to find a perfect balance. Leave enough time for all of your aims and ambitions without endangering your health.
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