Most people who don’t get enough sleep are usually irritable, grumpy, or even angry throughout the day. And in fact, without enough sleep, mental and physical ability change getting worse and worse with the longer an individual has been awake. After 17 hours of no sleep, cognitive ability drops to a point that is similar to having a blood alcohol level of .05 (characterized by impaired judgment and coordination). After 24 hours of no sleep, it’s practically like being legally drunk. Over time a chronic lack of shut-eye makes you more prone to accidents, depression, and anxiety.
However, more and more experts are recognizing what’s called “short sleepers”, people who don’t need more than four or five hours per night. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours to feel rested and rejuvenated throughout the day. True “short sleepers” are rare, according to sleep specialist Carol Ash, DO, a member of the Ladies Home Journal Medical Advisory Board. “Only a tiny percentage of people can function well with that little [sleep],” she says.