How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Sleep is one of our basic needs and one of the richest topics in science today. In everyday life it often includes funny stories!

In our early days of marriage, my husband was dropping bundles for the local news paper for extra money. He’d have to wake up at 2 am to get the papers dropped off at the carrier’s sites. When he didn’t get there on time, the Anchorage Daily News would call. One morning I heard the phone ring and he wasn’t responding. I nudged him to wake him up. As he reached for the phone, he unknowingly. knocked the clock off the night stand. As he answered I heard Rob say, “This is Shaw, I mean Larry.” Still in a sleep fog, he looked for the clock and asked into the phone, “What time is it? Someone stole my clock.”

Why we need it, why it can be hard to get and how it affects everything from our athletic performance to our income. We have been taught that we need 8 hours of sleep a night. Is that the truth?

The National Sleep Foundation has well documented research about sleep. The foundation says though research cannot pinpoint an exact amount of sleep needed by people at different ages, the following table identifies the amounts most experts have agreed upon. Nevertheless, it’s important to pay attention to our own individual needs by assessing how we feel on different amounts of sleep. Are we productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take nine hours of quality ZZZs to get into high gear? Are health issues such as being overweight involved? Are we at risk for any disease? Do we depend on caffeine to get through the day? Do we feel sleepy when driving? These are questions that must be asked before we can find the number that works for us.

New borns (0-2 mos) 12 to18 hours
Infants (3-11 mos) 14 to15 hours
Toddlers (1-3 yrs) 12 to14 hours
Pre-schoolers (3-5 yrs) 11 to 13 hours
School age children (5-10 yrs) 10 to 11 hours
Teens (10 -17 yrs) 8.5 to 9.5 hours
Adults 7-9 hours

What We Can Do

To begin a new path towards healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, the National Sleep Foundation suggests to begin by assessing our own individual needs and habits. We need to pay attention to how we respond to different amounts of sleep. Look at our mood, energy and health after a poor night’s sleep versus a good one.

Not getting enough sleep can have serious effects on our health in the form of physical and mental impairments. Inadequate rest impairs our ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system and moderate our emotions.

Similarly, the brain’s ability to problem solve is greatly impaired. Decision-making abilities are compromised, and the brain falls into rigid thought patterns that make it difficult to generate new problem-solving ideas

Without adequate rest, the brain’s ability to function quickly deteriorates. The brain works harder to counteract sleep deprivation effects, but operates less effectively: concentration levels drop, and memory becomes impaired.

We must realize the importance of adequate sleep and take control of our sleep habits.
Ahh the funny sleep stories, I wish I’d have written them all down! Another one that I did write down:

Rob was the president of our church youth group and actively involved in the lives of the young men. We were just starting life after college, and we were cutting expenses at every opportunity. As a cost-cutting measure Rob served as the family mechanic. I’ve always been an early riser, and I’m typically up first. One morning, as I walked back into the bedroom, Rob abruptly sat up in his sleep and began fussing with the blankets. Amused, I asked, “What are you doing?” Rob responded with an impatient tone as if to say ‘duh’, “I’m comparing the engine clicks to the youth in our ward to.”

Tell me your funny sleep stories and we’ll all get a kick out of it!

Linda

About our Co-Founder: With a bachelors in Social Work, Linda is 53 years old, happily married with eight children and 17 grandchildren. Diagnosed with MS in 1995 and now having accepted and truly embraced her new reality, Linda has created MSrelief.com. She is dedicated to proving that joy can be chosen while living with Multiple Sclerosis. Linda specializes in helping others, especially those with MS attain the lifestyle, independence and happiness amid living with MS.

12 Comments:

  1. It is true that in this competitive world we have hardly any times for ourselves to have a peaceful sleep. I think the average sleeping time is now getting 6 hrs a day for most of the people. I think we are very much cautious about our career rather of our health. Thanks for the post for remembering us about the importance of sleep.

    • Kate,
      I couldn’t agree more! It’s amazing how we let other ‘things’ get in the way of taking care of ourselves! It;s crazy because when we don’t take care of ourselves the ‘fun’ is all taken away, life can be miserable!
      Linda

  2. It is in fact one big factor that could have a healthy and stress free life is having a proper sleep and there are many times that we felt something wrong and with this, it could affect our sleep. Let us be cautious about our health and yeah! I think the average sleeping time is now getting 6 hrs a day for most of the people.

    • John,
      Thank you for sharing! I know my mood is directly connected to the proper sleep I acquire! I hadn’t heard that the ‘new normal’ for sleep is 6 hours!
      Linda

  3. For an adult, do you think it is good for someone like me to spend more than 9 hours sleeping in one day because honestly I sleep that long and I felt like it was adequate for me.

    • Candice,
      I’m not a doctor, I’m just a mom with MS! I believe that we are the ones that need to decide what is best for us! If you feel good at 9 hours, that must be what is necessary! Do you feel rested and ready to start the day with that amount of sleep? I know others who do! I’m worried that you look down on sleeping 9 hours a night. Nowadays with the high energy, fast moving living sometimes people feel guilty spending time sleeping! If you’re one of those people, just stop it! 🙂 Take care of your body, accept what you need and do it!
      Linda

      • I really really appreciate your help Linda. Don’t worry I’ll fix my sleeping pattern or better yet I’ll just follow your advice. After all, it’s a good advice to take right. Thanks for all the support. Have a nice day!

  4. Go for it Candice! Give your body the healthy things it needs! 🙂

  5. It is truly impressive all of the side effects that lack of sleep has on us, you have touched on a few but the list is so long! I wish that this was taught to middle school children to prepare them for proper health through their high school and college years.

    • I agree! The unfortunate thing is that few kids will even pay attention! I know I didn’t when my mom tried to tell me! Shoot, we still don’t listen! It is so much easier said than done! It took me experiencing a chronic condition to wake me up! (no pun intended)

  6. With the work that I have, I hardly have a good night sleep. Thank you for this friendly reminder!

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