In our early days of marriage, to earn extra money, my husband was dropping bundles for the local news paper. He’d have to wake up at 2 am to get the papers dropped off at the carrier’s sites.

When he didn’t get there on time, the Anchorage Daily News would call. One morning I heard the phone ring and he wasn’t responding. I nudged him to wake him up. As he reached for the phone, he unknowingly. knocked the clock off the night stand. As he answered I heard Rob say,”This is Shaw, I mean Larry.” Still in a sleep fog, he looked for the clock and asked into the phone, “What time is it? Someone stole my clock.”

Sleep is one of our basic needs and one of the richest topics in science today. Why we need it, why it can be hard to get and how it affects everything from our athletic performance to our income. We have been taught that we need 8 hours of sleep a night. Is that the truth?

The National Sleep Foundation has well documented research about sleep. The foundation says though research cannot pinpoint an exact amount of sleep needed by people at different ages, the following table identifies the amounts most experts have agreed upon.

New borns (0-2mos) – 12 to 18 hours

Infants (3-11mos) – 14 to 15 hours

Toddlers (1-3 yrs) – 12 to 14 hours

Pre-schoolers (3-5 yrs) – 11 to 13 hours

School age kids (5-10 yrs) -10 to 11 hours

Teens (10-17) 8.5 to 9. 5 hours

Adults 7 to 9 hours

Nevertheless, it’s important to pay attention to our own individual needs by assessing how we feel on different amounts of sleep. Are we productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take nine hours of quality ZZZs to get into high gear? Are health issues such as being overweight involved? Are we at risk for any disease? Do we depend on caffeine to get through the day? Do we feel sleepy when driving? These are questions that must be asked before we can find the number that works for us.


What We Can Do

To begin a new path towards healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, the National Sleep Foundation suggests to begin by assessing our own individual needs and habits. We need to pay attention to how we respond to different amounts of sleep. Look at our mood, energy and health after a poor night’s sleep versus a good one.

Not getting enough sleep can have serious effects on our health in the form of physical and mental impairments. Inadequate rest impairs our ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system and moderate our emotions.

Similarly, the brain’s ability to problem solve is greatly impaired. Decision-making abilities are compromised, and the brain falls into rigid thought patterns that make it difficult to generate new problem-solving ideas.

Without adequate rest, the brain’s ability to function quickly deteriorates. The brain works harder to counteract sleep deprivation effects, but operates less effectively: concentration levels drop, and memory becomes impaired.

We must realize the importance of adequate sleep and take control of our sleep habits.

Ahh, the funny sleep stories, I wish I’d have written them all down! Another one that I remember:

Rob was the president of our church youth group and was actively involved in the lives of the young men. We were just starting life after college, and we were cutting expenses at every opportunity. As a cost-cutting measure Rob served as the family mechanic. I’ve always been an early riser, and I’m typically up first. One morning, as I walked back into the bedroom, Rob abruptly sat up in his sleep and began fussing with the blankets. Amused, I asked, “What are you doing?” Rob responded with an impatient tone as if to say “duh, I’m comparing the engine clicks to the youth in our ward.”

Tell me your funny sleep stories and we’ll all get a kick out of them!