Is 1 Hour of Sleep Enough or Is Pulling An All-Nighter Better?

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If you are reading this because this is currently your situation, skip to the conclusion at the bottom and hurry up and get some rest. But if you have time for all the information keep reading to know how to best battle your sleeping predicament.

Whatever your situation might be, facing the possibility of only getting one hour of sleep can be overwhelming. So what do you do, stay up till the crack of dawn or get sixty minutes of not-so-sweet shuteye?

There are a lot of reasons you may only get one hour, like if it’s finals week and you’ve stayed up way too late before the big exam or maybe your insomnia has gotten the better of you and the workday begins in just a few hours. Maybe you have a newborn baby that hasn’t quite fallen in love with her crib yet.

This article will highlight the benefits and drawbacks of this scenario as well as answer a few other commonly asked quantitative bedtime dilemmas.

Is it better to sleep for an hour or not at all?

If you have ever pulled an all-nighter at some point you may have asked yourself, “Is it better to stay awake or sleep for an hour?”

Well, in truth neither answer would likely serve you best. Completing a sleep cycle takes 90 minutes, which is where sleepers should find their most beneficial rest. So, if you can squeeze in an extra 30 minutes of shuteye you should be able to get the rest you need to get through the day.

If getting those extra 30 is not the cards then taking a 15 to 20-minute nap may be your best bet. When you wake up after 60 it is likely you may be getting up during Stage 4, which is categorized as a deep sleep. During this phase of rest, you may wake up more groggy and tired than when you fell asleep.

At 90 minutes your body should be in REM, which is rapid eye movement, the stage where you dream. You may often notice that you naturally wake up while you are dreaming, this is for a reason, as this is the phase where your body should be most ready to be aroused out of bed.

Read more: You can learn more about 5 stages (cycles) here

red hair man closed his eyes

Should I sleep for 2 hours or stay awake?

Unfortunately, in this situation, 2 hours may be too much.

Sleeping past the 90-minute mark may shove you down deeper into your cycle and create more of a problem when it’s time to get up and move it.

In general, the more cycles you can manage to complete, the better. Instead of completing one partway, however, it may be better to get going and grab your favorite cup of coffee with the extra time.

Is some sleep better than none?

Yes, most of the time catching even a few z’s is better than nothing. So, when you truly have less than an hour, power napping for 20 could be in your best interest but when you have time to make it through 1 cycle, you could be in good shape until you can catch up on some much-needed shuteye.

woman is laying on the bed only with her top part of the body


You should be able to rest more soundly knowing that 90 minutes would serve you best in this situation.

When possible you would do best to get 7.5 to 8 hours of rest each night as that should allow your body enough time to complete a total of 5 sleeping cycles. It is not so much about getting more rest, but it really boils down to waking up at the right time. So, the next time you are facing off against the clock and you have less than 120 minutes to rest, start the 90-minute countdown, and it might be tempting but don’t hit that snooze button.

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Author: Mark Mattei

Sleep is something I like to do, A LOT. So if I'm not writing about or researching sleep-related topics you can probably find me in my bed catching some Zzz's.

When I'm awake, I love to spend time outdoors with my family. Hiking, camping, snowboarding, and riding ATVs are among the many activities we like to do.

My wish for our readers is that they can find answers to their sleep-related questions, so they too can live an active and healthy lifestyle when they’re not in bed.

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The Sleep Advisor