Are 5 Hours of Sleep Enough?

Is it healthy to get 5 hours of sleep? 

For many students, workers, and parents, sleeping 5 to 6 hours a day feels normal. 

But, according to a study, people who get less sleep than the recommended 7 to 9 hours per night have a 20% higher risk of one or multiple chronic diseases. 

This includes cancer, depression, heart disease, or diabetes. 

So, what happens if I only sleep 5 hours a day? 

Here, you can learn more about the advantages of sleeping more than 5 hours, including what sleep deprivation can do to your health. 

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Sleeping less than 5 hours is linked with chronic diseases

  • The NHS recommends adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Children require 9 to 13 hours, and toddlers need 12 to 17 hours. Anything less than that can make you feel constantly tired. 
  • Getting at least 5 hours of sleep can help you function. But, it isn’t optimal.
  • Sleeping for 5 hours or less is linked with a higher risk of getting diagnosed with one or multiple chronic diseases.

Sleep has three stages – light, deep, and rapid eye movement. Every stage has a unique purpose. That includes repair and growth, memory processing, and mood regulation. 

The body cycles between these stages every 1 ½ hour to 2 hours. The average 8-hour sleeper has around 4 to 5 sleep cycles a night.

Based on reports published in PLOS Medicine, sleeping 5 hours or less a day is detrimental to overall health. 

Experts evaluated almost 8,000 civil service workers and found a notable link between getting less than 5 hours of sleep and higher odds of continuing diseases among people aged 50, 60, and 70. 

Volunteers were healthy individuals at 50 years. Just around 7% stated sleeping 5 hours or less. Around 33% claimed to have slept 6 hours, 46% for 7 hours, and 14% for 8 hours. Only 1% of those evaluated slept for 9 hours or over.

So, how many hours of sleep can you function on? How much sleep you need can vary depending on your individual needs, but most healthy adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function at their best. 

Of course, there are still individuals that feel fine with just 6 hours of sleep. But, it is very unlikely that your physical, emotional, and mental state will remain intact if you sleep 5 hours or less every day. 

According to data, sleeping 5 hours a day seems awfully low. When you are getting less than the recommended amount, you could predispose the body to one or more chronic diseases. 

Sleep experts found that people who reported getting 5 hours of sleep or less at 50 were 20% more likely to have been diagnosed with a chronic ailment. Like cancer, depression, heart disease, and diabetes. 

They also had 40% higher odds of being diagnosed with two or more chronic ailments over 25 years compared to the volunteers who slept for up to 7 hours. 

Sleeping for 5 hours or less at the ages of 50, 60, and 70 was associated with a 30% to 40% increase in the odds of multimorbidity, compared with individuals who got a shut-eye for up to 7 hours. 

Sleeping less than 5 hours was also linked with an increased risk of death. This is mainly because sleep deprivation amplifies the incidence of chronic diseases. This, in turn, could increase the risk of death.

How many hours of sleep can you survive on? 

Sleeping at least 5 hours can help you function. Some people might feel okay on 4 hours of sleep, but this is very rare. 

These people are naturally short-sleepers. They have a gene mutation that can allow them to function normally with just 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night, explains UC San Francisco neurology professor Ying-Hui Fu. 

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Are 5 hours of sleep enough?

Many people want to know if it is bad to only sleep 5 hours a night. 

Sometimes life forces you to have a lack of sleep. You may need to sacrifice those hours to keep up with the daily schedule. But, 5 hours of sleep is not enough out of a 24-hour day, particularly in the long term. 

According to a 2018 sleep study of over 10,000 people, your body can’t function as well as you want it to. Especially if you are not getting enough sleep within the 7 to 8-hour range.

Research studies found that people’s overall ability to think, reasoning, and verbal skills were not at their peak after a 5-hour sleep.

So, if you want to perform best, you should focus on 7 to 8 hours of sleep. That way, you can plan, communicate, think, and make decisions at full capacity. 

In fact, sleep deprivation can cause an altered state of consciousness. It can manifest as dysfunctionalities, like depression, irritability, confusion, memory loss, and hallucinations. 

On that note, sleep can help regulate stress hormones and help the nervous system stay healthy. Over time, lack of sleep could interfere with the body’s ability to manage these stress hormones. Therefore, causing high blood pressure. 

Are 5 hours of sleep enough for one day? 

When you are super busy, you might want to know if 5 hours of sleep is okay for one night. Almost everyone has a bad night or two of sleep. But, if you are consistently not getting enough sleep, then you can expect it to greatly impact your quality of life.

Sleep experts recommend most adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. If you are getting less than that, you will eventually have to replenish it with extra sleep. 

Sleep fragmentation is not good either. It can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and cause some cognitive impairment. What you need is decent, restorative 7-hours of sleep.

How to function on 5 hours of sleep? 

Get a cup of coffee or green tea first thing in the morning. Caffeine in moderation can help boost mental alertness and concentration. Expect an energy dip in the afternoon, so try to get most of your work done early on. 

Another way to increase energy and alertness on less than 5 hours of sleep is with a cold shower. It is a great way to wake you up. 

When the sleepiness rolls in, then go for a 10 to 15 min walk. This is a great method of restoring your energy levels.

To establish adequate blood sugar control, choose foods low in saturated fat, calories, salt, sugar, and trans fat. 

If you are struggling with a sleep disorder, get feedback from a specialist. They can help you work on your sleep quality and improve your sleep patterns.

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Tips to improve your sleep

Do you want to revamp your bedtime routine? The CDC offers a few recommendations that can help people improve their sleep health. Some of these habits include: 

Having a consistent bedtime schedule

Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Even when you are not working.

Minimizing distractions

Distractibility is a huge problem. Remove any smartphones, computers, or other devices that make noise.

Being physically active

Exercise can help you spend the extra energy. When you are physically active, you can find it easier to fall asleep.

Avoiding caffeine before bed

A single cup of coffee can give you a quick energy boost. It stimulates the nervous system and makes it harder to relax at night.

Reducing the long or irregular daytime naps

Taking very long naps in the middle of the day can disrupt your sleep at night. A nap should be around 20 to 30 min long.

Using breathing exercises

Belly breathing (diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing) can improve your sleep. It can enhance melatonin production, which is a key sleep hormone. 

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Countless people who can’t get enough shut-eye are wondering, is 5 hours of sleep enough? When you have your projects and must crack those exams, you can get away with 5 hours of sleep. But, this is not a good long-term strategy. 

Your body needs rest and rejuvenation – and 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults can help with that. 

Studies show that regularly sleeping 5 hours a night, every day, can have a profound impact on overall health. Based on the results, this unhealthy sleeping habit can increase the risk of getting diagnosed with one or multiple chronic diseases. 

So, the occasional 5 hours of sleep might not seem like a big deal. But, the more you deprive your body of sleep, the bigger the impact. Ideally, you should try getting enough sleep to keep your mental health and physical health in tip-top shape.

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10 Tips To Get More Deep Sleep.


  1. Sabia S, Dugravot A, Léger D, Ben Hassen C, Kivimaki M, Singh-Manoux A. Association of sleep duration at age 50, 60, and 70 years with risk of multimorbidity in the UK: 25-year follow-up of the Whitehall II cohort study. PLoS Med. 2022 Oct. 
  2. Conor J Wild, Emily S Nichols, Michael E Battista, Bobby Stojanoski, Adrian M Owen, Dissociable effects of self-reported daily sleep duration on high-level cognitive abilities, Sleep, Volume 41, Issue 12, December 2018.

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