You hear the advice all of the time that people need to get eight hours of sleep, but does that apply to every person? What about all of the people in my area of the world, Silicon Valley in California, who commit to 12-16 hours days months before their company launches a new product. Or the people working longer and harder just to keep their jobs in this recession. And what about children, teens and older people? Many people seem to get by on less than eight hours. Is it normal? Is it healthy? So…
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
Many of you may be asking yourself this same question — especially when your day ends well before the last item on your to-do-list. And in these uncertain times that have shrunk many 401k’s to 210k’s, many of us are working longer hours than ever before.
And what about the effects a heavy workload has on the family members who have their own busy schedules… school, homework, football practice, dance class, overnights with friends. You name it and kids seem to be doing it.
When our two daughters were in school, one was studying acting with ACT in San Francisco, so my wife drove her to the City weekly. Our other daughter was active in rowing which meant taking her to practice and the regattas held locally, but also to the ones held as far away as Sacramento, California.
You might begin to wonder about your family’s sleep habits. Do they often forget to put their sleep needs ahead of their other priorities? Sleep is important so how does one figure out when “enough is enough?” While the news media and health organizations keep saying “get more sleep,” it might me confusing how may hours are necessary to make sure you and your family members are adequately rested. Well, it’s no surprise that there are experts in this subject and they are not bashful about sharing their opinions and views with the public.
What the Research Says About Sleep?
The first thing experts will tell you about sleep is that there is no “magic number.” Great! Not only do different age groups need different amounts of sleep, but sleep needs are also individual. Just like any other characteristics you are born with, the amount of sleep you need to function best may be different for you than for someone who is of the same age and gender. While you may be at your absolute best sleeping seven hours a night, someone else may clearly need nine hours to have a happy, productive life. In fact, a 2005 study confirmed the fact that sleep needs vary across populations, and the study calls for further research to identify traits within genes that may provide a “map” to explain how sleep needs differ among individuals.