The Conversation

Your weekly dose of evidence

Do you struggle to get eight hours of sleep a night? You’re not alone – one in four Australians sleeps less than eight hours a night. But eight is an arbitrary figure – some of us need nine hours of sleep to feel refreshed, while others feel fine on seven or less. The real test is how you feel the next day.

Fron Jackson-Webb

Deputy Editor/Senior Health + Medicine Editor

You know you’re not supposed to do this – but you do. Shutterstock

Trust Me, I’m An Expert: the science of sleep and the economics of sleeplessness

Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation; Dilpreet Kaur, The Conversation

Only about one quarter Australians report getting eight or more hours of sleep. And in pre-industrial times, it was seen as normal to wake for a few hours in the middle of the night and chat or work.

How much sleep we need depends on us as individuals and varies by age. from

We asked five experts: does everyone need eight hours of sleep?

Alexandra Hansen, The Conversation

Five out of five experts agreed not everyone needs eight hours of sleep.

From the archives: sleep

Guilty about that afternoon nap? Don’t be. It’s good for you.

Nicole Lovato, Flinders University

The benefits of naps are similar to those experienced after consuming caffeine, but without the side effects of caffeine dependence and possibly disrupted sleep at night time.

Explainer: how much sleep do we need?

Gemma Paech, University of South Australia

The amount of sleep adults need has once again come under the spotlight, with a recent Wall Street Journal article suggesting seven hours sleep is better than eight hours and the American Academy of Sleep…

Research Check: can sleeping too much lead to an early death?

Stephanie Centofanti, University of South Australia; Siobhan Banks, University of South Australia

The researchers found a link between sleeping for longer than eight hours a night and getting heart disease or dying prematurely. But they didn't show the sleep duration caused these problems.

Health Check: five ways to get a better night’s sleep

Chin Moi Chow, University of Sydney

We know that not getting adequate sleep means we do a disservice to our brain and our physical and metabolic health. But what are the real secrets to a good night’s rest?

Expert answers to serious, weird and wacky questions

A lot of people have spent a very long time wondering what causes cancer – and scientists still can’t say for certain why an individual person might have it. Marina del Castell/Flickr

Curious Kids: Why do people get cancer?

Darren Saunders, UNSW

I have worked on this problem for many years, and to be honest it still blows my mind to really think about just how complex it is.

If you went to Mars, you’d need to be able to survive an extremely punishing environment. This picture, taken by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, gives you an idea. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Curious Kids: What are some of the challenges to Mars travel?

Paulo de Souza, CSIRO

I've worked with NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Project for 16 years. If you got yourself a ticket to Mars, here's how I'd advise you to prepare. And by the way, any mistake could kill you.

Curious Kids: How do moths eat our clothes?

Andreas Zwick, CSIRO

If you see moths and their larvae near your clothes, it's a sign that it's time to wash all your clothes and air them out in the sun.

Curious Kids: what is a species?

Paula Kover, University of Bath

It can actually be very tricky to define a species, but in the 1900s, scientists found a pretty good way.

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