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ベストな睡眠時間は6時間?眠りがもたらす寿命への影響とは

夜明け

現在、健康に最もよいとされる睡眠時間は6時間です。これは6時間の睡眠時間のグループがもっとも長寿であったという研究データが基礎となっています。ただ、6時間以外の睡眠時間でも長寿の方はおられるので6時間という睡眠時間はひとつの目安とすることが良いということができます。

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そもそも睡眠時間とは?

眠る男

私たちは毎日、一定の睡眠時間をとって生きています。たまに徹夜をしてしまう時があっても睡眠時間は私たちの生存に不可欠です。人間の一生涯における睡眠時間は、人生の3分の1程度になると言われます。

「なぜ人間は眠るのか」という、人間が睡眠時間を取らなくてはならない根本的な理由については実はまだはっきりとはわかってはいません。ただ、睡眠時間が体に良い影響を及ぼすということについてはわかっています。

睡眠時間は私たちの体と脳を休め、健康を維持します。特に、睡眠時間を取らないと脳が休まりません。横になるだけでは体の疲れは取れても、脳の疲れは取れないのです。その結果、睡眠時間が足りない場合には脳の疲労から、意識がもうろうとして仕事の質などが低下します。

さらに、睡眠時間は私たちの寿命にも影響をするのではないかという研究もあります。

長寿のためのベストな睡眠時間は6時間

睡眠時間としてもっとも良い長さは、現在、6時間といわれています。睡眠時間は8時間が良いと言われていました。しかし、最近では、ある実験などから6時間の睡眠時間が健康にはもっとも良いのではないかと言われています。

その睡眠時間に関する実験とは以下のような実験です。つまり、睡眠時間を5時間や6時間、7時間などそれぞれのグループに分けて睡眠時間の長さと死亡までを追跡調査しました。非常に長い時間をかけた実験です。その実験の結果によると6時間の睡眠時間のグループがもっとも長生きであったという研究結果が出ました。この研究結果から、長寿のためにもっとも良い睡眠時間は6時間なのではないかと言われるようになりました。

6時間睡眠と長寿の関係の検証

このように長期間にわたる実験の結果として、睡眠時間は6時間の場合が健康にはもっとも良いのではないかというのが現在の一般的な考え方になりつつあります。また、1日で必要な睡眠時間が6時間程度である場合には、前後の睡眠・起床のための身支度の時間なども考慮しても15時間程度は仕事や勉強、自由時間などに当てることができ、社会的にも生活しやすいということができます。

とはいえ、睡眠時間が6時間でなくては、長寿できないのかというとそのようなことはありません。例えば、「ゲゲゲの鬼太郎」などで有名な漫画家の水木しげる氏は、2013年12月現在、すでに90歳を超えておられますが、1日10時間程度は睡眠時間をとられるそうです。

一方で、3時間睡眠の逸話が残るほど短い睡眠時間で有名なナポレオンは、50歳過ぎまで生きました。当時の平均寿命は40歳代なので、短い睡眠時間が必ずしも短命となるとは限らないと言えます(なお、ナポレオンには暗殺説もあり、その場合には寿命は強制的に短くさせられたことになります)。

このように6時間の睡眠時間でなくては、長命を得ることができないかというと「必ずしもそんなことはない」ということが結論であると思われます。ただ、一般論としては、6時間程度の睡眠時間の方に長命の方が多かったという大規模な実験結果は尊重されるべきであるとも言えます。

そのため、ご自身の睡眠時間として6時間がもっとも「しっくりくる」方は6時間の睡眠時間を取られることが結果として健康・長寿につながるということであるといえると思われます。

6時間よりももっと長く、あるいはもっと短く眠る方が健康に対して「しっくりくる」方はそのような睡眠時間を取られるべきではないかと思います。6時間というのをひとつの目安としつつ、ご自身の体に合った睡眠時間を取られることが重要ということができます。

まとめ:6時間睡眠が一般的にはもっとも健康に良いが

以上、本文で述べました睡眠時間、特に6時間の睡眠時間に関する議論のポイントをまとめますと以下のようになります。

  • 睡眠時間は体や脳の休息のために重要となります。特に、脳の休息のためには、睡眠時間をしっかりと確保することが重要です。
  • 現在、寿命・長生きとの関係で最も良い長さの睡眠時間と言われているのは6時間の睡眠時間です。6時間の睡眠時間をとっていた方々が最も長生きをされたという研究データがあります
  • 長寿のためには必ず6時間睡眠でなくてはならないというわけではありません。6時間を超えて、あるいは6時間未満の睡眠時間の方でも健康的に長生きされている方もたくさんおられます。6時間睡眠が健康・長寿に良いという実験結果はひとつの目安とされることが良いということができます

一昔前は8時間の睡眠時間が健康には最良であると言われていました。現在の6時間という考え方もさらに研究や実験によって異なってくるかもしれません。その意味では必ずしも6時間という睡眠時間に拘泥せずに、ご自身にマッチした睡眠時間を取られることが良いということができます。

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