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Is One Hour Of Sleep Better Than None? [Count As A Nap?] 2024

By: Susie
Updated On: October 19, 2023

Everyone has had those nights you’re staring wide-eyed at the clock, and it’s a race against time. You have an important meeting in the morning or a big presentation, or maybe you’re just rushing to meet a deadline. The question that often comes up in such situations is this – is one hour of sleep better than none?

In the rush of our daily lives and the constant hustle-bustle, we sometimes undervalue the importance of good sleep. Still, when faced with the reality of zero sleep versus just a slight taste of slumber- just an hour of shut-eye – things can get confusing.

After all, shouldn’t even a fraction of the rest be better than none at all? Let’s take an introspective look at this scenario with all its surprising implications.

What is the sleep cycle?

A sleep cycle refers to the progression through various stages of sleep that we undergo during a typical night.

These stages include Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep, which consists of Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 or Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS), and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep.

On average, a full sleep cycle lasts about 90 to 110 minutes, and one typically goes through four to six cycles in a single night. Each stage serves different vital functions for the mind and body.

What are the Stages of Sleep?

What are the Stages of Sleep?

There’s more to a good night’s sleep than merely shutting your eyes for seven to nine hours. Your brain and body go through five distinct stages of sleep to fully restore you.

But what happens when you only get an hour of sleep or, worse, none at all? This article aims to shed light on just that.

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NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep

We first need to familiarize ourselves with NREM or Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. This phase represents the bulk of our snoozing time, and it’s where most restoration takes place. Here, our body repairs tissues builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.

Stage 1 (N1)

  • The transition from wakefulness to sleep.
  • Lasts only a few minutes.
  • Light sleep, slow eye movements, and reduced muscle activity characterize it.
  • The individual can be easily awakened.

Stage 2 (N2):

  • Deeper than Stage 1 but still considered light sleep.
  • Eye movement stops, and heart rate slows.
  • Sleep spindles (short bursts of brain wave activity) appear.
  • The body temperature drops, preparing for deep sleep.

Stage 3 (N3):

  • She is also known as deep or slow-wave sleep.
  • Extremely restorative stage.
  • Heart rate and breathing are at their lowest levels.
  • It’s harder to awaken someone from this stage, and if awakened, they might feel groggy.
  • It is important for the growth and repair of tissues, immune system support, and energy restoration.

REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep

Now that we have a grasp on NREM sleep let’s delve into REM or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. This is the phase where our brains become active, and dreams occur. It’s a vital component of our sleep cycle, impacting our mood and cognitive function.

  • This is when most dreaming occurs.
  • Eyes move rapidly, hence the name.
  • Brain activity increases, resembling that of being awake.
  • Voluntary muscles become paralyzed, preventing us from acting out our dreams.
  • It is important for mood regulation, memory consolidation, and brain function.

Sleep Cycles Over the Night:

  • An individual typically starts with N1, progressing to N2, then N3, and finally REM.
  • The first sleep cycle of the night may have a short REM stage or even skip it altogether.
  • As the night progresses, the duration of REM sleep increases while deep sleep (N3) decreases.
  • Most deep sleep happens in the first half of the night, while the proportion of REM sleep increases in the second half.

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Importance of Sleep Cycles

Each stage of sleep has its unique vital functions for the body and mind. Disruptions in the sleep cycle, like frequent awakenings or lack of certain sleep stages, can lead to reduced well-being and health issues.

Consistent, good-quality sleep helps in overall cognitive function, mood regulation, physical health, and more.

Factors Affecting Sleep Cycles:

  • Age: Newborns and infants spend much more time in REM sleep, while older adults might spend less time in deep sleep.
  • Lifestyle and habits: Alcohol, caffeine, and certain medications can affect sleep cycles.
  • Medical conditions: Conditions like insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome can disrupt sleep stages.
  • External environment: Noise, light, and temperature can affect sleep quality and the progression through sleep stages.

Understanding the sleep cycle can be beneficial for individuals looking to optimize their sleep for health, well-being, and productivity.

Is a power nap Better Than None?

Is a power nap Better Than None?

Yes, a power nap is better than none at all. According to sleep experts, taking a power nap between 15 and 45 minutes in duration is highly beneficial.

It can significantly improve memory recall, enhance cognitive skills, boost energy levels, and decrease fatigue for the remaining part of the day.

So, incorporating a quick power nap into your daily routine could positively contribute to your overall productivity and well-being.

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Sufficient sleep for the human body

Sleep experts suggest that the ideal sleep duration varies across different age groups. For instance, school-aged children should aim for at least nine hours of sleep each night for healthy growth and development.

Teenagers should strive to get a good rest, between eight and ten hours per night, to support their active lifestyles and rapid growth periods.

Meanwhile, for the majority of adults, a minimum of seven hours or more of restful sleep each night is recommended to maintain good health and optimal functioning.

Is One Hour Of Sleep Better Than None?

Is One Hour Of Sleep Better Than None?

Yes, even a brief period of sleep is better than no sleep at all. According to sleep experts, getting even just one hour or a 20-minute nap of sleep can be beneficial.

It can help to improve mood, alertness, and cognitive function in comparison to not getting any sleep. It’s important to note that this is a temporary solution and not recommended for the long term as it doesn’t replace the comprehensive benefits of a full night’s rest.

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What are the benefits of One Hour Of Sleep Better Than None?

What are the benefits of One Hour Of Sleep Better Than None?

Sleep deprivation is unequivocally not recommended, but when you’re faced with a decision—one meager hour of sleep or none at all—might that single hour have its perks?

As counterintuitive as it might seem, choosing to slip under the covers could provide a few significant benefits. Let’s delve into them.

  • Provides Some Rest: Even a small amount of rest can help in preserving your bodily functions. It gives your body a little respite and can contribute to overall homeostasis.
  • Improves Cognitive Function: Even minimal sleep allows your brain to ‘reset’. This is better than no sleep at all when it comes to performing cognitive tasks. It won’t restore you fully, but it will give you an edge compared to zero sleep.
  • Enhances Mood: We’ve all been in that situation where lack of sleep makes us irritable, restless, and snappy. A smidgen of sleep could help keep your temperament more even-keeled during that crucial morning meeting.
  • Reduces Sleep Pressure: ‘Sleep pressure’ is the increasing desire for sleep the longer we stay awake. A brief nap can reduce this pressure, allowing you a bit more mental clarity during your day.
  • Aids Memory Consolidation: While one hour may not provide substantial REM sleep—a phase crucial for memory—a soupçon may occur, providing some memory consolidation.
  • Reduces Risk Of Microsleeps: Prolonged lack of sleep increases incidents of ‘microsleeps’ – brief moments when your brain actually falls asleep without you realizing it – not an ideal situation, especially while you’re driving or operating machinery.

One hour might feel barely enough to scratch that itch for deep slumber, but when confronted with zero alternatives—it does offer some respite. Don’t let this become a habit; remember, this is a band-aid, not a cure for sleep deprivation.

Count those sheep towards a proper night’s rest and wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! Your body will thank you for it.

What are the disadvantages of One Hour Of Sleep Better Than None?

Mind you, while an hour’s sleep may have its superficial advantages, it undeniably pales in terms of truly replenishing your body and mind.

The drawbacks are glaring—if you frequently resort to such short-term fixes, they could bring long-term problems. Let’s address these potential pitfalls.

  • Not Sufficient for REM Sleep: As mentioned earlier, REM sleep is when our mind processes essential information and consolidates memories. One hour of sleep doesn’t provide ample time to go through complete sleep cycles that include sufficient REM stages.
  • Leads to Sleep Inertia: You’ve probably noticed that short naps can often leave you feeling groggy rather than refreshed. This unsteady feeling is known as ‘sleep inertia’, and it’s more likely if you wake up from deep sleep—which usually happens within the first hour.
  • Interferes with Normal Sleep Patterns: Your body follows a circadian rhythm—a 24-hour internal clock running in the background that cycles between alertness and sleepiness. Frequently disrupting this pattern increases the chances of insomnia or other sleeping disorders.
  • Gives a False Sense of Recovery: It may trick your body into thinking it has fully recovered, while in reality, it’s still starved for proper rest. One hour’s sleep’s revitalizing effects are quite temporary.
  • Increases Sleep Debt: Consistently opting for minimal hours of sleep piles up your ‘sleep debt’—the difference between the amount of sleep needed versus obtained. This debt can lead to chronic tiredness and health issues over time.
  • Potential for Increased Drowsiness: A short span of sleep may counterintuitively result in heightened drowsiness during your waking hours because it fails to meet your rest requirements.
  • Health risks: Repeated minimal sleeping patterns can trigger severe health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. It can also impair your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections.

While one hour of sleep is technically a step up from no sleep at all, it’s important to understand that it’s not an equivalent substitute for a full night’s rest.

A good night’s sleep is a line of defense against various chronic health problems and is critical for maintaining overall well-being. The need to prioritize proper sleep hygiene on your health checklist cannot be overstated.

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How does an hour of sleep affect my performance throughout the day?

While one hour of rest is better than none, it’s unlikely to restore your cognitive functions or physical energy sufficiently. You may experience difficulties focusing, slower response times, and mood swings.

Can I make up for a lack of sleep with an extra-strong cup of coffee?

While caffeine gives a temporary boost, it’s not a substitute for quality sleep. Sleep revitalizes the body in ways that stimulants cannot replicate.

If I only have time for one hour of sleep, should I stay awake instead?

If you really have no other option, then take that hour’s sleep—it’s usually better than staying awake all night. But remember, this should not become a habit!

Can one hour of sleep help relieve drowsiness?

A brief nap could provide temporary relief from drowsiness but is generally inadequate for complete rejuvenation.

What are some tips if I frequently find myself having only one hour to sleep?

Prioritize reorganizing your schedule to allow for sufficient resting hours. Engage in relaxation techniques and limit caffeine intake and screen time before bed to optimize your sleep quality.


While grabbing that hour of sleep when you have a restricted window is mildly beneficial and certainly better than no sleep, keep in mind that it’s a patchwork remedy and far from an ideal solution.

The full benefits of sleep are reaped only from a good night’s rest, which involves cycling through several stages of REM and NREM sleep.

Short-changing yourself on sleep is definitely not the route to maintaining health and wellness. Make smart choices today to enjoy the vitality and well-being you deserve tomorrow!

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