Sleep Quote

This quote from the NY Times made me giggle.  Dr. Judith Owens, who directs the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic at Hasbro Children’s Hospital notes that the average early to mid-adolescent needs 9 to 9.25 hours of a sleep a night, then goes on to head off questions about kids who don’t need that much. 

“It’s a bell-shaped curve,” she said, with just 2.5 percent of the population needing significantly less sleep than average.

“The problem,” she went on, “is that 95 percent of us think we’re in that 2.5 percent.” 

Granted, the center of the adults’ bell-shaped curve is 8 hours, not 9.  And, as you get older, you tend to have more “fragile” sleep patterns – you’re more easily woken by things like noise or light.   Personally, I find not getting enough sleep can lead to an adrenaline high, but it can also just guarantee I feel sick all day.

14 thoughts on “Sleep Quote

  1. Thank you for highlighting this. Sleep is one of the reasons fat is scapegoated, IMO, because blaming all of the nation’s health ills on something like fat allows us to ignore the tougher-to-address issues of stress, sleep deprivation, etc. We don’t like to be told that we should “relax” more–instead our Puritan work ethic seems to respond better to “deprive yourself of food more, kill yourself in the gym more, work more hours, and take all of that out of your sleep schedule if you just can’t cram it in anywhere else.”

    • Yup. Not to mention that it’s if you are chronically tired, you’re going to be told to lose weight. Never mind that the problem might be never getting more than 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night….

      • Right, ’cause if you’re tired (or have a low sex drive, or have trouble conceiving, or are depressed) then being fat is the only possible reason. That is, the only reason by which a doctor can give a pat answer that puts the entire burden on you to do something (losing weight) that is impossible for many people and often not the real problem. And as a special bonus, if you can’t make that happen despite diligent diet and exercise, you will probably skip your follow-up appointment out of shame and he won’t have to actually do the work to find out what is really wrong with you.

  2. I’ve always found it really disturbing how we find it admirable and even virtuous when somebody claims to get by fine on only 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. Maybe they do. But, most people can’t, and it’s bad for their health–and probably their relationships with other people!–to try. And, I’d be cranky and tired all day if I were to only get 5 hours of sleep, and that wouldn’t be admirable or virtuous. My husband, despite being a lapsed-Catholic atheist, has an insanely Puritan ethic about things, and thinks he should be able to be alert, happy, and functional on 6 hours of sleep, which is just not going to happen for him. Needing 8 hours of sleep (or 9, or 10 for some people) is not a sign of weakness, just an acknowledgment of a biological reality.

    I find that as I get older I go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier, which is pretty typical. I generally, now, find myself going to bed around 9:30 or 10:00 and waking up at 5:30 or 6:00. When I was in my teens and early 20s, waking up before 7 was a nightmare, and I could rarely get to bed before midnight.

    • I’ve always found it really disturbing how we find it admirable and even virtuous when somebody claims to get by fine on only 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night.

      Indeed.

      When I was in my teens and early 20s, waking up before 7 was a nightmare, and I could rarely get to bed before midnight.

      There’s actually research that shows that circadian rhythms tend to shift later in adolescence. I would think high schools would want to shift their hours earlier later – rested adolescents are certainly easier to deal with!

  3. I usually get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. When I used to work a 3-11 shift at 7-11, I would get up about 11 am and go to bed between 12 and 1 am. Then when I started working daytime hours, I couldn’t sleep past 11 unless I was sick or really tired, and on weekdays, I’m in bed before midnight, and on most weekend nights too. I can function on 4 or 5 hours of sleep, but I prefer to get my full hours in because it just makes me feel better. You’d think society would encourage more sleep, instead of less!

  4. I read somewhere recently that there’s actually a significant dip in accidents and injuries the week after Fall Back because people are using that extra hour to get extra sleep. Clearly we, as a society, aren’t getting the sleep we need.

    I also find that I function less well with either too little or too much sleep.

  5. There’s actually research that shows that circadian rhythms tend to shift in adolescence. I would think high schools would want to shift their hours earlier – rested adolescents are certainly easier to deal with!

    That would interfere with football, which as Americans all know, is the only reason to have public education at all. We had to be in at 7am to start classes so that school could be out by 2 for, you guessed it, football practice.

    • The usual reason I’ve seen is that the cost would be prohibitive because it would require buying more buses. Currently they bus all the high schoolers, then the middle schoolers and then the elementary school kids, who of course can’t possibly wait for a bus any earlier than they already do.

  6. All my life I have had approximately a 6 hours- 6 hours- 9-hours cycle. When I read somewhere that being underslept can cause changes in serotonin production that can mimic the behavior of antidepressants, I understood why. (I sometimes feel really good the day after one night of only 6 hours, but I really need an average of 8 hours.)

  7. When I first moved to the US I was stunned by how many Americans seem to believe that they can function on significantly less than 8 hrs of sleep, pretty much indefinately. Sure, most people can do it for a few days, pull the occasional all nighter, but if you’re permanently sleep deprived it affects EVERYTHING.

    It amuses me that studies have proven that sufficient sleep deprivation impairs people’s ability to drive as much as being drunk does, and yet no one seems to think that the fact that lots of people are that sleep deprived all the time might be a health and safety issue.

  8. “but it can also guarantee I feel sick all day”

    Hhmmm perhaps that’s why I’ve been feeling crappy the past few days since turning the clock ahead an hour!

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