I was somewhat surprised at how many people commented on the snooze button post (or emailed me) this week. But then I saw how many people responded to a post Meagan Francis wrote about sleeping 8.5-9 hours a night, and realized that this is really a hot topic.
Meagan wrote (in a previous post) that she normally was asleep by 10:30 and woke up at 7 or so. She’s always felt she needed a bit more sleep than average and did better when she got it. So far so good. A commenter then stirred the pot by complaining that Meagan’s life was too cushy and other women just couldn’t relate. Meagan wrote a post to respond, and the original commenter responded back…which then set off the whole fascinating phenomenon of a long comment thread of people arguing. What did we do before the internet for entertainment?
I’m somewhere around comment 120 (oh yes, it got to that) noting that in fact, Meagan is absolutely average. According to the American Time Use Survey, the average American woman gets a whopping 8.86 hours of sleep a night. Wow! To be sure, that is all women over age 15, so we’ve got teenagers and retirees in there. But even employed women of kids under age 6 (e.g. Meagan) sleep, on average, 8.48 hours a night. If Meagan’s getting 8.5, she’s right on the nose of average.
And many of the comments say the same thing. People (who don’t have newborns) are aiming for 8 or so hours a night. Getting a lot less is not as common as we think it is. Of course, there are people who get less (“Gina” — who set the whole consternation going — may be one of them). But they may be more of outliers than you’d suspect from the usual conversations about sleep.
I’ve been tracking my time this week. My average for weekdays isn’t 8 hours. My 5 recorded nights have been 7:45, 8:00, 7:00, 7:25, and 7:00, giving me an average for weeknights of 7:26, or just shy of 7:30. However, I’ll probably bump that up a wee bit on the weekend. My average for the week should land above 7:30, which is my target. And that’s for a pretty busy week during which I’ve been “parenting solo” (not single parenting, as Gwinne pointed out!).
I would like a bit more me time in my life, which is why I sometimes go for 7 hours vs. 7.5 on weeknights. I do OK on 7. I do better on 7.5. I don’t really need 8.
How much sleep do you need? Have you tracked how much you usually get?