Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Much ado about sleep

School for Calvin started on Monday and I am still adjusting to the new routine. We wake up at about 6am (I am a snoozer) and try to get out of the house latest by 6.45am to avoid the morning traffic gridlock at one of the worst areas in town - the Sunway LDP Toll. To save time and to avoid the traffic-jam, we have our breakfast out.

I am still working out the time Calvin and I need to get to sleep so that we can wake up at 6am fresh and ready to go. I thought Calvin would need 9 hours but a collegue had the opinion that for a 10-year old boy, he need only 7. I am not sure 7 is enough, so I am making sure he gets to sleep by 10 to get at least 8 hours of sleep. The thing is that there is just too much to do and to get ready to sleep earlier than 10.

As for me, I have been sleep very little when Calvin was on school holiday. I would sleep around 2am and wake up about 7-ish in the weekdays - getting about 5 hours of sleep each night. On Saturdays, I would sleep about the same time and wake up as late as 9 or 10. That will be about 7 to 8 hours.

During this past few days however, in order to get enough sleep so to speak, I have been getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night. What happened? I felt like a zombie in the office.

This brought me to ask - how much sleep do I really need?

Another colleague of mine said that it could be because it takes about a week to adjust the time of sleep. While that may be true, I think I may be sleeping too much. I wonder if it will be good if I sleep from 1 to 6am in the weekdays and then sleep all I want in the weekdays.

I found this helpful article: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? A few interesting points:
  • Individual needs vary greatly. There are so-called short-sleepers and long-sleepers -- those who need as little as five and a half hours to as much as about nine and a half hours.
  • How much sleep you require depends on several factors including your inherited genetic need, sleep hygiene (those daily activities you control, from drinking coffee or alcohol to smoking and exercise), quality of sleep and your 24-hour daily cycle known as the circadian rhythm.
  • The age-old recommendation that we need a solid eight hours of sleep was obtained in a classic study based on the sleeping patterns of an individual in a controlled environment.
  • To find out how much sleep you need and if you have a sleep debt - do this simple test: Starting on a Sunday, do not drink alcohol or caffeine; go to sleep about the same time every night; and get an uninterrupted seven to eight hours of sleep for the next six nights. Then, on Saturday morning, sleep in. See how long your body will let you sleep. If you sleep longer than you did during the week -- then you have a sleep debt. So you should consider getting more sleep each night to replenish that sleep debt.
We'll see.

Photo © 2007 Maxim Kourov


  1. Great research.

    My best info is that 7 hours is about right for most people. More or less causes problems. I almost never get that during the week, but I think that and lots of other accumulated stress explain 1/3 of my migraines.

    I can't wait to hear what you find when you run the experiment!

  2. I sleep about 5 to 6 hours a night and have for years. I find it quite adequate for me. I truly think our need for sleep varies from person to person.

  3. Kevin,
    I think 7 hours is right too, though I wish I need less ... thankfully I have not been getting much migraines lately.

    I am not sure if I can manage the experiment! Getting to sleep when you want to and when you will yourself to is the best way NOT to get to sleep! I don't know - if I do try it though - I will update you.

  4. Susan,
    I wish I am like you. Most weekdays I do only get 5 to 6 hours but I get drowsy the next day. Not good when I am driving!