For years I have been calming down patient’s fears about sleep. Experts insist they must have 8 solid hours of sleep or they are doomed to ill health.

But anthropologists have been studying traditional cultures and seeing that very healthy people can sleep in very different patterns, or for less hours, and do just fine.

This October 2015, here is yet another study published in Cell Biology by UC Berkley. It shows that three traditional native societies get an average of 6.5 hours sleep a night, and stay healthy and have lots of energy and stable weight.

It is not how “much” you sleep as much as the “quality” of your sleep.

Einstein slept four hours a night and was the king of short catnaps. And he of course was an amazingly productive healthy man.

My mom ran the distance of marathons till she was 79 and lived healthfully till her 90’s and she only slept 4 hours a night. I don’t once remember her complaining that she was tired.

Sleep, like all aspect of life, is personal. But it does have to be restorative. It’s not the length, but the quality (women have been saying this for years ☺).

There are many positive things to do to help anyone at any age achieve deep health sleep.

But I see that the media and medicine consistently scream at us that if we don’t get 8 hours of sleep, Alzheimer’s and cancer and fat are going to attack us.

Health is personal. Not a template. Even sleep.

And there you have it.

Yetish et al. Natural Sleep and Its Seasonal Variations in Three Pre-industrial Societies. Current Biology, 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.046