Sleep Scold Slackers

 Photo : Thomas Bresson

The National Sleep Foundation’s Expert Panel on Sleep Duration (let’s just call them the Supreme Court of Sleep) has ruled on the amount of rest you’re supposed to get and their ruling is an eye opener.

No, literally. You can have your eyes open more often now.


The new chart identifies specific age groups and suggests a broader range of  sleep hours are “appropriate” based on your seniority.

I have to admit this is a disappointment.  I expect the National Sleep Foundation to caution, warn and scold me about my sleep habits.  In fact, I don’t even look at a report from any sleep expert unless I want to feel like a smoker – someone trapped in an unhealthy pattern of self-destructive behavior.

But reluctant  snoozers will notice with some relief how the recommended amount of down time has shifted:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

Aside from those always-so-contrary “newborns”,  where the  “acceptable” sleep ranges have widened, they’ve been increased on the low end rather than the high. In fact, only one upper limit was moved – the one for Teenagers, who gained an extra half hour that they can claim “… is perfectly normal. I’m a teenager.  Get off my back.  Geez, mom!”

Of course the usual cautions about not getting enough sleep remain  in the report – you can do serious damage to your health and well-being by skimping on Z’s.   But the takeaway for those who want to stay up late or (horrors!) get up early – you  just got a little more legit.

The big winner – Infants! They gained two hours on the front end – extra awake time to devote to thumb sucking and gently cooing at faces. That’s the best case scenario. In reality, they’ll spend it screaming for dad and smearing poop around the crib.

Toddlers, preschoolers and school age children all got an extra allowable hour of wakefulness. And geezers (65+) got their own category with the lowest upper boundary of all the age groups – eight hours.

Time to get up, grandma.  Quit pretending!

I’m not sure why the sleep boundaries were “widened”, but if you look at the methodology you get an idea of what went in to crafting this new report:

Fifty-eight searches using combinations of search terms related to sleep (eg, time, duration, and sufficiency), age groups (eg, newborn, adolescent), and outcomes (eg, performance, executive function, cognition) yielded 2412 articles. The review team identified 575 articles for full-text review. Of the 575 articles, 312 met our inclusion criteria. Pertinent information (eg, sample size, study design, results) from each article was extracted and included in the literature review materials. Articles were sorted based on the strength of the study and presented in descending order in a summary chart. Expert panel members received print and electronic versions of the literature.

So members of the 18 person panel only had to wade through the particulars of 312 scientific articles to make their judgments about much sleep we need.   And only a third of those panelists were sleep experts – the others came from  such organizations as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Anatomists, the American College of Chest Physicians … you can almost hear their inner deliberations …

“Do I really have to read all this?  This isn’t even my real job – how did I wind up on this friggin’ panel?”  

Busy people.  Highly schooled people.  Graduate school and PhD survivors who had other, equally important obligations, mulling over a persistent question – how much sleep do I really need?   And how do I get my work done?

All-nighter, anybody?


38 thoughts on “Sleep Scold Slackers”

  1. Good morning. No all-nighter for me. I seldom get enough sleep and I know that is not a good thing. Staying up all night would be bad and I would only do that if I had no other choice. Several days of failing to come close to getting enough sleep leave me feeling very spaced out and significantly depressed.

    A night without sleep would leave me in bad shape. I almost never get 7 hours of sleep which I think is what I need to be at my best. I can get by fairly well with 6 hours. When I get less than 6 hours I feel tired all day long the following day.


        1. if you go to bed earlier do you wake up earlier too? or can you fix the 4 am wake up by going to sleep at 8 pm (not that 8 pm works i’m just wondering)


        2. I always try to stay up until 10 and don’t get to sleep until 10:30 or a little later. I often doze off in my chair and miss part of the evening. If I do too much dozing in he evening I wake up extra early and might have trouble getting back asleep if I wake up in the middle of the night. When I manage to keep from dozing in the evening I can usually sleep a little later in the morning.


  2. I would be one of those who falls into the “more sleep is good” camp. Even 7 hours a night is not enough – I will be cranky and irritable like a toddler if I have to get by on that for too many days. A consistent 8 is good, 9 on the weekends if I can manage it. All nighters are along gone – part of why I don’t do much (or really any) theater tech stuff anymore. Even staying up until 2 or 3am is not on the agenda more than once a year or so. Sigh.


  3. i have always been a crash and burn type of sleeper. go until its over, put my head on the pillow and within 2 minutes im gone. waking up has now been synced with the sunrise if not already achieved. this time of year i wake with the dogs about 4 and have to ask them to allow me to catch a bit more to get closer to human standards. i spent years like clyde with4-6 and i think it messed me up but i was too blind to see it.
    now i get the 5 or 6 that come naturally and try to find another 2 or 3 to give me a buffer. if i go a week on 4 i am not functioning on all cylanders.
    i do like all nighters. used to thrive on that in school. get the info ready then set a semi realistic time line to finish and shazamm it got doen and it was focuesed as could be.
    i was in a tech start up thing a coupole moths ago where you had the weekend to invent and create a new business that a team put together
    the geeks needed to be compfotabel with sleep deprivation and were pretty good at it. my role was cheer leader and visonary and it was fun. we didnt win the big prize but i learned a bunch about team building and working with people under pressure when bowing to pressure is not an acceptable option. .
    body clocks are wonderful things and the discovery tha ti am best between wakeup and early afternoon is helpful information for me. afternoon is better for communicating and diddleing with details than solving the worlds problems. do them in the morning.
    i have a 13 year old who gets up at 5 and the new chart puts here withing the timeline now with her 7-8 hours of sleep. i was concerned that she wasnt getting enough and the days of being an hour short were going to catch up with her but obvously her body clock knew what she needed . it has kind of messed up her weekend programs though. she used to have sleepovers and sleep until noon but now she leaves her friends int he rooma nd gets up at 930 or 10 even though its a weekend.
    thanks for the inspiring crock pot discussion yesterday. i have the pinto beans going already this morning and need to decide what else to throw in the pot. (guessing it will be an indian directed bean dish)


  4. I only ever pulled a couple of all-nighters–one was at a big convention, when I challenged myself to stay up all night just to see what it was like, and the other was before my very last class in graduate school. My printer died while printing out my final paper, and by that time the computer lab was closed, so I stayed up packing and cleaning while waiting to get my hands on another printer.

    I’m a born night owl who has to get up around 6 AM for work, so I’m a little sleep deprived all week. When I can sleep normally it’s about 9 hours–fewer when I’m fit, since it’s a deeper sleep–but with the early-morning schedule and the fact I’m a light sleeper, 7 hours is about the best I can do these days. I love coffee very, very much. My roommate likes early mornings and late nights (not sure how that works), and she usually gets a “second wind” after about 9 PM. I never get second winds. I just crash.


    1. I function the best on a reversed clock. At the O of Chi I slept from 9 to 3 and studied from 3-7. Being married by then, that pattern did not work at the U of M.


  5. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    If I got to choose I would sleep 10pm –6am. But I appear unable to choose this. So what do I do with this thing where I wake up at night from 2-4am. After that 6am is too early and I can’t manage myself.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sandy now sleeps from midnight to about 3 or 4. Is up until about 7. Sleeps from 7 to 11 or noon. Then dozes part of the afternoon or evening, all amounting to about 11 hours a day. Lupus.
    This was the story I thought Dale would do yesterday. I sent him the link. Remember the “National Sleep Debt” on the LGMS?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember an all nighter in college spent studying in the lounge. Some daybeds with plywood bases were on their sides (who knows why). I found myself staring at the plywood and the wood grain was moving like lava. A sign that my studying wasn’t going to be very effective.

    Because of my inability to decide that I’ve seen enough posts and videos on FB and videos on YouTube, I am up far too often until 2:00. Because I work from home and don’t start until 8:30, I can get 6.5 hours but I know it’s not enough because I frequently falling asleep in church and at movies.
    I did a FB fast last week because I HAVE to get my grandson’s quilt finished before I visit next week. One night I went to bed at 10:30. It was a beautiful thing. Of course, the last two nights I’ve been up ’til 2:00 quilting.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. “All-nighter, anybody?
    Thank you for the invitation, Dale. Where is the party to be held? Can I bring anything?
    “We’re going to party
    Karamu, fiesta, forever
    Come on and sing along!

    All night long! (all night)
    All night long! (all night)
    All night long! (all night”
    Lionel Richie

    Liked by 4 people

  9. SInce I am an inveterate procrastinator, I have many times done all nighters. This weekend will be spent doing intense work putting the finishing touches on a presentation I am giving in Sioux Falls next Friday for the SD Counselors Association. I will have it done by Monday night, which is pretty good for me.

    No matter what time I go to bed, I wake up at 4, lie in bed for an hour or two, then fall sound asleep just as the alarm goes off. Ish!


  10. OT: late night posts from yesterday are worth reading…

    I’m a lucky one who gets about 8 hours most nights. I did my share of all nighters, but now rarely stay up into the wee hours. If I don’t have to get up early, I do sometimes read till 11:30 or so if it’s a good book.

    We were proud that we made it past midnight on New Years – it helps to be moving (dance party at Tapestry).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I was a normal person before becoming an old person, and now sleep is weird for me. I usually stay up until 2 AM because I usually sleep only about three hours at a time, no matter what I do. Arthritis has reduced my physical movement until I no longer can get tired by doing physical things. Increasingly, I don’t bother to go to bed because I’m not sleepy and would only sleep a tiny bit if I did get in bed.

    It seems I have little control over this aspect of life, and my best course is to be resigned and cheerful about one more of the ways aging has warped my life. And for the most part, it doesn’t matter to anyone if I go to bed at all or just go down for two or three hours of sleep. All my efforts to exert control have failed, so I smile and try to figure out things I can do in the middle of the night without waking up my upstairs neighbors. My Kindle tablet allows me to spend countless hours at night reading or watching TV shows without making noise.


  12. Hey all. I am lucky to have a very forgiving internal clock – this is especially nice considering I travel as part of my job. But I’m also affected by the seasons and sunlight. In the summertime, as soon as the sun and the birds are up, I’m up, even though I hit the hay about the same time every night (10ish). During the darker winter months, I can sleep longer, but not usually past sun up!


  13. All-nighter? Heck, yeah, I’ll be there.

    I used to think that not being able to sleep until 2 or 3am was insomnia. I didn’t know how lucky I was.

    I did a few all-nighters when the twins were infants because I couldn’t stand seeing their mom try to get by on 0-1 hours of sleep a night. While it might sound cozy to be holding one baby or another all night long, it gets old really fast. When I got so tired that I was afraid I would drop the baby, I would wedge myself into a big chair with pillows and things so that even if I let go of the kid, he would have not drop. Those few all-nighters wrecked my body clock and ability to fall asleep big-time. Now, a year and more later, I feel that I might be starting to get back to normal. Whatever that is.

    Now I know for certain: women my age are not meant to have babies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope your daughter realises what an awesome mother you are.

      The image of you pulling those all-nighters so she could get some sleep brings tears to my eyes.

      I know you felt you could not do otherwise, but that’s awesome too.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t recall ever pulling an all-nighter if by all-nighter you mean working through the night. I have, however, partied through the wee hours, but that’s ancient history.

    Nowadays, I have a hard time staying awake past 11 PM, this despite a half hour nap after dinner. As a rule, I get plenty of sleep, usually interrupted by a trip to the bathroom somewhere between 3 and 4 AM. If I’m lucky, I go right back to sleep. If not, it’s not a major disaster as I don’t have to get up to go to work. What a luxury it is to be retired!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nice to know even with the new numbers I still am not getting enough sleep, so it’s ok if I am tired too much of the time, right?

    Like Anna, I used to do all-nighters all the time, that ended when theatre budgets tightened, the staffing was cut back and the schedule got shorter and shorter.

    It’s not about aging, it’s about the way business is now done. We would work an all-nighter, maybe even 2 back to back.

    The show would open and the next week we would tidy the shop, look over the sketches for the next show and pull ourselves back together.

    When things changed and the instant you finished one show you were already behind on the next one, I stopped doing all-nighters and made myself grab at least a 2hour sleep break so I could keep going.

    I’ve also worked as a float(you work whatever shift in 24 hours that they need you) several times in healthcare. Do that while also being a single parent and you get a little sleep deprived, I don’t think age comes into it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, I used to be short of sleep sometimes when i was younger, but i was able to snap back. Going short on sleep this time around, with the grandbabies-twins, screwed my body up seriously. Months after I stopped the all-nighters, it was still fairly normal to stay awake until 4am, 5am, 6am, or even 7am. I put that down to age, at least for me.


  16. All-nighters: after my first year of college I worked at Reserve Mining in Silver Bay. Because of the way they posedt the next week and the way they rotated shifts, I five times came in for the Saturday 3:00 p.m. shift to see that I was working 18 hours straight. (Without a second lunch.)
    Sandy and I were in Savannah. At 12:30, she had a lupus health scare. We went to a hospital. At 4:45 they decided it was not any significant. I had a workshop at 8 the next morning. There was no point in sleeping. I did the workshop just fine at Juliette Lowe Elementary School (she was from Savannah.) The hard part was the drive up to Atlanta to catch a plane.


    1. Just looked it up: “BattleBots was an American company that hosted robot combat competitions. BattleBots was also the name of the television show created from the competition footage hosted by comedian Bil Dwyer…” Let us know when it gets close, Clyde.


  17. Sleep is one of my favorite activities. I have gone through stretches of time when I’ve had trouble staying asleep for an adequate respite. I’ve had the sleep study done, and they tell me I have a “fractured sleep architecture”, meaning I wake up a lot. I find it helps to expect that I will go back to sleep when I wake up at night. If I start expecting I’ll stay awake, I’m more likely to stay awake.

    Midnight to around 7 or 8 is my usual sleep time. A little more in the winter and a little less in the summer. Dark promotes sleep.


  18. All-nighters happen once a month. Age: 42. I know we never really “catch up” and napping on a bright sunny day is a waste of beautiful sunshine. My inconsistent schedule is ok for now. I make it work.


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