We already know that sleep is essential for our mental and physical health. Researchers link sleep to cognitive function, memory and overall productivity.
There’s no better evidence of the benefits of sleep than the sleep habits of one of the smartest men who ever lived – Albert Einstein.
He confirmed the existence of atoms and molecules, proposed the theory of special relativity and came up with the general theory of relativity among many other accomplishments.
He accomplished all these while sleeping for 10 hours a day and taking regular naps.
Sleep and your brain
There is still so much that researchers don’t know about sleep. While we have confirmed many of its benefits, we still don’t know for sure exactly why humans sleep.
But we know that getting enough sleep is super important for your health and wellness. It’s especially important for brain functions that lead to better memory, higher intelligence and improved reasoning abilities.
Multiple studies have shown that people who get more sleep solve problems faster (and better), they are more alert and they have better concentration.
So it’s perhaps not surprising that Einstein was very liberal with his sleep habits.
Ten hours a night is three more than the average American Adult. On top of this, he took regular naps during the day but took care not to overindulge.
That was wise because if you nap beyond 20 minutes, you’ll wake up more tired than refreshed.
Ideal sleep period
Obviously, Einstein was a bit of an extreme sleeper. Not many people can sleep for 10 hours and still take naps during the day.
The minimum that sleep researchers recommend is 8 hours though seven is also enough for some people.
But depending on your sleep profile, you might need as many hours as Einstein. The best thing is to find out which number works best for you.
A simple way to do this is to choose one night when you have no sleep debt. That means you’ve been sleeping well the past few days.
It’s also best to select a time when you are not sick or overly tired from a hiking trip or moving.
Note the exact time you go to sleep and the time you wake up. Do not use an alarm.
The number of hours you sleep is the best one for your brain. You can repeat this for two more nights to get the average.
What about naps?
Once you get the right amount of sleep, you’ll find that you usually don’t need a nap during the day.
But again, we are all different. Some people experience moments of fatigue at certain time such as midmorning or afternoon.
If you start feeling tired and sleepy, a 20 minute nap will get you right back on your feet.
But if you don’t feel the need to nap, don’t force yourself. It could mess up with your sleep routine at night.
It’s not just sleep
Einstein’s quirky lifestyle didn’t just extend to his sleep patterns. He had sacred routine of taking a walk every day.
There’s plenty of scientific evidence that walking, especially after a long stretch working or studying, rejuvenates your brain and improves your focus.
You’ve probably had an experience where insight or a solution comes to you when you take time away from your desk and go for a walk.
If you do any creative work, walking can help you come up with new ideas and perspectives.
If for nothing else, take a daily walk to stay fit and healthy. As a bonus, the exertion will help you sleep better at night, even without a sleep mask.