Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Sleep Myth?

Stepping away from politics for a while (hopefully forever - no wonder I was so disinterested in them before, what a pain in the ass!), I am attempting to put a common myth to rest. Or perhaps not.

Question to YOU dear reader: How much sleep do you get per night and is it enough for you to be able to function normally???

I don't know about you but I have grown up with the whole "You MUST get 8 or more hours of sleep per night or else" vendetta.

And this alone has caused me a lot of sleeping problems, believe it or not.

Because when you are told that you are useless or your health is in danger or your gonna get fat or whatever the newest study is, if you don't get at least eight hours, well, that's the kind of thing that's going to keep you up at night!

And I do agree with an extent. But I've noticed sometimes when I get 9 or 10 hours, I am just as tired as if I got 7 hours. And I am more likely to stay awake fretting away that my "8 hours" is running out.

I mean, think about. If you are anything like me and you start believing that you can't function on less than eight, you try and plan your bedtime accordingly. For example, you wake up at 7:20 AM which means you have to be in bed and ASLEEP by 11:20PM in order to get your eight hours. And this is not always doable. Life gets in the way, whether it be your bf who stays up playing video games, the episode of Futurama you wanted to watch or your bff texting you just as you are dozing off.

Suddenly your eight hours is dissapearing and you start worrying. And then the clock starts ticking away and before you know it it's one in the morning and now you REALLY can't sleep because you are freaking out cuz now you are going to be braindead tomorrow and your whole day is ruined.

Of course we all need sleep. But I think it's a completely individual thing. I've come to realize that a LOT of it is mental...and a lot is figuring out what works for you. I will NEVER be a morning person, no matter how much I sleep, but I do know that I feel less tired if I get 6 1/2 - 8 1/2 hours of sleep - SOLID SOUND SLEEP, mind you. Any less and I do suffer...and guess what, anymore and I don't think it makes any difference.

Of course sleeping in on the weekends FEELS nice because it really is a great indulgence, knowing you don't have to get up. But my bf and I have actually been waking up after about 8 hours of sleep anyway so I guess our bodies really do know best. If I stay in bed any longer it's not because my body wants me to but because I CHOOSE to.

Anyway, I'm rambling obviously, but I was always curious to see how much sleep other people let me know!

PS - to actually read an informative and realistic article on sleep, please click here. It's from TIME and it's one of the few that actually questions the whole "You need eight hours" thing.


Sarah said...

I am such a sloth - 8 hours minimum for me! Although I function a lot better with 9! Im always in bed by 10:30, and sometimes on weekends the boy and I sleep for a solid 12! I know it sounds bad but hes very active with sports and I have a job that drains my mind so I feel so much better with more sleep! And there is nothing better than a Nanna nap on the couch on Sunday arvo!

Rachel said...

In all reality I like to sleep as much as I possibly can, however, I find that I actually function best and feel more awake and alive if I get between 4 and 5 hours of good solid sleep. I can not sleep more than 8 hours or my body actually gets sore and I feel more haggard and tired than I did before I went to sleep.

Farrell said...

I think it is an individual thing just like the "are you a morning or night person" thing. I personally love my eight hours. At the same time, i force myself to get up early on the weekends (unless I went to bed real, real, real late) because I'd rather get up, do some stuff, then take a nap later. I feel like that during the week too - even if I get 8hrs of sleep, I will STILL want a nap around 2pm.
Also: I used to be a night person until I had kids, and then I turned into a morning person.

Delicieux said...

Interestingly enough, a few semesters ago, someone did a project on sleep debt and presented it to the class. There IS such a thing - and people do aquire it. The best way to find out how much YOUR body needs is to sleep for 10 hours each night until your body starts waking up on its own.

Some people don't have the "time" to do that - so try it on a weekend.

I usually have to sleep 8 or more hours - otherwise I find myself tired before its bedtime, taking a small nap, and consequently staying up until 1am.

For some crazy reason, i'm sometimes able to sleep for only a few hours and be alright for the whole next day. Perhaps it's adrenaline??

I dunno if any of that actually helped you - but I hope it does!

WiscoBlonde said...

I just had a lecture on sleep disorders and it seems that sleeping 6-8 hours is correlated with lower mortality than the extremes (<6,>8) on the scale.

Also, since I've been diagnosed with epilepsy I've really had to make sleep a priority because sleep deprivation makes you more prone to seizures!

sunny day said...

I just usually go with the flow and sleep whatever I sleep sometimes 4 hours and sometimes 8. If I am tired the next day then I sleep more that night.


M said...

On average I get about 6/7 hours a night. That's pretty much okay if I actually get the full 6/7 hours - however without fail, on weekends I go for anywhere between 8-12 hours of sleep + a nanna nap.

If I give myself the permission to sleep in then I'll definitely use that. However I have to say when I was on school holidays I reverted back to my normal sleep hours which was about 4am - 11am-ish. So I guess that fits with the 6/7 rule even though they are totally fucked up times.

Vegas Princess said...

I am one of those people who can not function on less than eight hours very well. I am passable on seven. Any less than that and watch out. Eight to nine is my minimum and I usually get that every night. But I do stress about it if I feel like I won't get my quality sleep time. So I usually limit what I do the next day to make up for my sleep. And naps are awesome!