Can 8 Hours of Sleep REALLY Change Your Life? Cosmo Finds Out...

Consider this a wake-up call.




Writer and Blogger Karishma Rajani put herself on an eight-hours-a-night sleep diet. What happened next was literally a wake-up call:

"As a child, my idea of rebellion was staying up past 8pm and getting some downtime in front of the television. As a teenager, long hours on the phone, binge-watching sitcoms, and a semblance of a social life ensured that sleep was basically at the bottom of my priority list, and remained there even when I first started working. (Hello, me time?). It wasn't until a recent crash-and-burn that I sat down to re-evaluate my complicated relationship with sleep, and resolved to make some changes. It's no secret that sleep deprivation can lead to some serious consequences. Studies say lack of sleep ups our risk of heart problems, makes us depressed, turns us forgetful, messes with our skin, our weight, and our sex life. And not just any sleep will do—you need eight hours to function at optimal levels. In a lab-based sleep study, subjects who got just six hours of sleep for two weeks functioned as poorly as those stayed awake for two days. Those who got eight hours of shut-eye had the highest performance.

So it was settled then—I needed to fix my nocturnal habits. Step one: get my circadian rhythm in order. If my nights of endless party-hopping had taught me anything, it's that sleeping late not only ruins the next day, but also the night after. So for the first week, no matter how much I wanted to snooze, I forced myself to rise at 6am. Consequently, I was drowsy as a baby by 10 every night, and drifted off to sleep almost instantaneously.

Waking up with the birds made me feel like I was living life, Beyoncé-size. I'd hit the yoga mat early (downward dog for the win), and take in enough oxygen to last me through the day. As the hours progressed, I noticed feeling more 'present' and in control of my life. At work, I was more alert, focused, and in a position to make better decisions. #MindfulMornings

My eating habits shifted, too. Since my days began early, I started with the quintessential hearty breakfast and ended with a light dinner. Bonus: I beat sugar cravings and curbed caffeine consumption like a boss. Oddly, I also felt fitter and healthier. There's probably a researcher nodding his head at this development. Because a study by Brigham University confirms the correlation between sleep and metabolism. "Those with more than 90 minutes of variation in sleep and wake time during the week had higher body fat than those with less than 60 minutes of variation," said Professor Bruce Bailey, BYU.

Wait, there's more self-righteousness coming your way: sleep, not laughter, is the best emotional medicine. Just five days into my snooze experiment, I felt the benefits on a deeper level. I'd wake up with a happy bubble that was also impermeable (friends actually asked me about it).

Now, as a Cosmo girl, there's an important question left to be asked: did my social life suffer? For the sake of this experiment, yes. But now, sleep and I have entered an open relationship. I let him take me to bed five days a week, and he lets me chase the high on the others."