Do Tall People Need More Sleep?
When asked the question "do tall people need more sleep", immediately it feels like there is some truth to it, I mean, maybe sleeping more made them taller in the first place, and now they are tall, surely a longer body will take more time to rest, right?
Well, the answer is actually not as straightforward as this, as while BMI has been linked to the quality of sleep, height itself shows little to no correlation. However, it is important to have the right sleeping set up for your height, as sleep quality can be affected. Not only that but having an improper set-up can cause health issues that can otherwise be avoided.
Taking into consideration healthy adults and controlling for BMI, there are no known associations between height and required sleep duration. Having the correct sleeping set-up is important, as longer limbs need longer beds, and if not properly accommodated for then a longer, restless sleep may be the result.
Why Tall People Might Need More Sleep
One idea is that habits formed at a younger age tend to stick, and as sleep is a vital component to release human growth hormone then it is quite possible that taller people will sleep longer during the growth phase. One study found that shorter sleep duration is associated with shorter body length within the first 2 years of life (1). They also concluded that this might be amplified in later childhood.
So, if this habit continues through childhood and adolescence, or develops into a constant lack of sleep, then growth hormone can become suppressed and may lead to a shorter adult height. This might be a contributing factor to why some tall people need more sleep, as they slept longer through their development.
Genetics also has an impact on how much sleep you need. So your taller ancestors slept for 9 hours a day, slowly getting taller and taller through the generations, this is a contributing factor to why some taller people appear to sleep longer.
Having longer limbs can be beneficial in some areas, but when sleeping it can mean awkward positions that can affect sleep quality. Longer limbs equal a greater amount of pressure on the joints. Our neck and back take a lot of the toll on our bodies, especially at night, and when these parts of the body are affected we will feel it all over.
Taller legs have longer leg veins, which means that blood has to travel further which can increase the risk of blood flow slowing. This may lead to being uncomfortable and more movement in bed, and therefore a lesser quality of sleep. Sleeping positions affect this and another reason that finding the right position for your body is important.
Accounting for BMI, taller people are generally going to be heavier in weight than shorter people, and if sleeping on a bed that does not support your weight and height then problems can occur.
So being a taller and bigger person is a factor when it comes to quality and duration of sleep, but height itself is not. People who are overweight can face several issues concerning sleep and are more likely to snore and report insomnia and issues with sleeping.
So, if you are taller and overweight then yes, this can affect the quality and duration of sleep, but so can being shorter and overweight.
Do Shorter People Sleep Less?
There may be some truth to shorter people sleeping less because they are receiving a higher quality of sleep.
It also may be down to the idea that their body type is suiting the average bed more than a taller person would. Therefore the quality of sleep of a short person will be higher than their taller counterparts.
Having ample space to get comfortable may lead to a higher quality sleep cycle, and needing less sleep as a result. Most tall people will not have this space, which is why the bed you sleep in matters in this regard.
Improving Your Sleep As a Tall Person
A longer body will require more space, just as a heavier body will require additional support. Let's have a look at some things which can improve sleep quality if you're a tall person.
- Buying a bed that fits your height. Your feet should not overrun the end of the mattress.
- Pillows will also need to be the correct dimensions to properly support the head and neck area. Also, duvets need to cover the body and length is important.
- Finding the correct sleeping position is important as longer limbs will become cramped faster if they are in awkward positions. This can cause knees, ankles, and other joints to wear down over time, which needs to be avoided.
- Depending on your BMI and weight distribution, if you are a heavier tall person a firmer mattress will compress less and correctly support your joints. There are such beds as the "BIG FIG" which have been positively reviewed by the tall and larger community.
Do Tall People Have to Get Special Beds?
If you're in a situation where your bed doesn't fit your body length, then it is important to change your bed.
For example, if your partner is shorter than you and you share a bed without enough space to accommodate your body, remember it is better to have more space required than not enough space, and this needs to be taken into consideration.
Being tall can cause a problem when sleeping in average-sized beds with average pillows. Longer limbs need to be catered to sleep the correct amount. Fortunately, these days there are a plentiful amount of options that can accommodate the physical needs of longer bodies, such as lumbar support pillows, tall mattresses with differing levels of support.
Being tall doesn’t mean having to sacrifice everyday things just because you can’t find anything to suit your physical needs. These days, there are so many great products out there designed for those with more height, including lumbar support pillows and extra tall mattresses.
What Size Bed Should a Tall Person Get?
Bed height will not generally affect the quality of sleep, however, it can affect how easy it is for you to get in and out of bed. Mobility is an important factor, as you don't want to be falling out of bed when visiting the toilet in the middle of the night due to being half asleep.
So, the height of your bed should also work well with your body size.
One simple way to judge if your bed suits your height is to:
- Sit at the edge of the mattress and place the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
- If your knees form a direct line towards your hips, the bed is the right size for your leg height.
- Concerning your hips, if your knees are pointing upwards then the bed is too short, and if they are pointing downwards then the best is too tall.
Mattress and Bed Size
The size of a mattress and bed is also important.
Classing a tall person as over 6 feet tall (183cm), then you will want to be looking at a king-sized mattress, a Queen, King, XL, and other bed types available.
The California King is the longest normal bed you can buy at 80 inches long x 72 wide, which will suffice if you're under 6 and a half feet tall.
If you're over this height then you may want to look at special options to accommodate your needs, such as the Texas King or Alaskan King.
Tall People Sleeping Set-up Benefits
Taller people are generally more injury-prone than shorter people, and also often suffer worse injuries when they do occur.
So there is an added need to protect their joints and bones. If you're spending a good portion of your day where you're in an awkward position then this is not going to help your body function well during daily activities. For instance, taller people have a higher chance of issues such as hip fractures due to their high center of gravity. This not only makes them more likely to fall, but it also may make them hit the ground with more force if they do
Blood clots are another issue for taller people. One study found that males who are over 6 feet are nearly 3 times more likely than men 6 feet or taller were 2.6 times more likely to develop blood clots in the veins than men 4 or more inches shorter (2).
The point here is that if you're in a cramped sleeping position, or having to bend when getting in and out of the bed, then your body faces increased chances of compression, joint stiffness, and other problems that taller people are more likely to face. This can easily be avoided by sleeping in a bed which suits your height.
Can a Lack of Sleep Make You Shorter in Height?
Constant sleep deprivation has been linked to the suppression of human growth hormone, which may factor in not growing to your potential height. Growth hormone also regulates muscle and bone health, all of which go hand in hand for a healthy body.
For everyone, those who sleep around 8 hours, during the night our spines stretch out and we wake up taller in the mornings. The less sleep you get, the less your spine will decompress and stretch, making you shorter in the mornings than you would be if you had a proper sleep.
If there is a correlation between height and required sleep duration then it is not significant enough to have been scientifically proven and or to be common knowledge.
However, when asking do tall people need more sleep, height does link with sleep duration if there is an incorrect sleeping set-up, as for a longer body this can impact your quality of sleep, alongside muscle and joint health, which can lead to further complications if left uncared for.
If you're compressing your body into awkward potions you may need to sleep for longer periods, when with the right mattress you could sleep for less time and at a higher quality.
So, if you're tall and sleeping for long periods of time then you may think you need more sleep than a shorter person when in reality it might mean you need to take time to understand your body and cater to your individual needs.