I did not spend the weekends of my “golden years” like most of my peers.
I didn’t sneak beers onto the beach or, when I could legally purchase said beers, consume them at day-long festivals or night-long parties. Instead, I slept.
To me, there was no greater reward for surviving another week in high school than collapsing in bed and hibernating the weekend away. This continued into college, where I developed even more grandmother tendencies and the sleep patterns to match. I know what you’re thinking, ‘cause I was thinking it too: “that isn’t normal.”
To be fair, some of this likely has to do with anxiety, which I was officially diagnosed with at the ripe old age of four. Given the option between people or a queen-sized bed complete with a thick down comforter, and I will always almost choose the bed.
Before I came to terms with my extensive need for sleep, I spent a lot of time researching the possibilities as to why I needed 12 or more hours at a time. This also led to several visits to various doctors who tested me for anemia, sleep apnea, and a host of other conditions. I was always perfectly healthy, just tired.
Still, every few years I find myself looking into the sleep habits of normal people, especially women. If you’re currently wide awake, scouring the internet for insight on your ZZZs, I’ve rounded up a few answers for you.
I’m a teenager. How much sleep should I get?
Hi, teenager. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, you need around nine hours of sleep each night. Social activities, extracurriculars, or part-time jobs may make it hard to commit to that standard, but that is the medical recommendation based on your body’s current needs. The NCH also notes that puberty shakes up a teenager’s internal clock by about two hours, which needs to be factored in when trying to stick with a routine bedtime.
I’m a woman with my teenage years behind me. How much sleep should I get?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, you need about 20 more minutes than your husband, boyfriend, or dad. In terms of hours, this comes out to between seven and nine (though the average woman clocks in at six hours and 41 minutes.)
Is sleep debt real?
Oh yeah. Harvard Health says that “each hour of lost slumber goes into the health debit column,” which can eventually get so long a person may not even recognize the deficit. And, like all debts, sleep can—and should—be paid back. Harvard Health suggests settling short-term debts (10 hours) by adding a few extra hours on the weekend and one or two during the next week. For really expensive sleep bills, you’ll need time away from obligations so you can sleep without any alarms.
Why am I still tired even if I get enough sleep?
You may just be like me, or you could have one of several conditions that cause fatigue. The Mayo Clinic lists a pretty intimidating list of potential conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, stress, diabetes, and of course, chronic fatigue syndrome. This may be a given, but if you suspect you’re getting plenty of sleep but still doze off during the day, check in with your doctor.
Now, excuse me while I go take a nap after all this sleep talk.
Image courtesy of Getty Images.