Q. Do some people really need more sleep then others? My wife says she needs her nap every day, but I feel like it’s a waste of the day!
A. The straightforward answer to the question is “yes, probably.” Clinical studies have suggested that most people need about eight hours of sleep each night. However, there appears to be variation since some people claim to need only four to six hours, while others may need more than eight. It is difficult to determine what the “normal” amount of sleep is for a particular individual. If a person is allowed to awaken spontaneously, without an alarm clock, the normal sleep quota may be roughly estimated. The desire for a nap is not necessarily abnormal. However, if an individual experiences a sufficient quantity (eight hours) of quality sleep at night, it is expected that there will be less of a “need” for a daytime nap. When contemplating sleep, it is important to consider both quantity and quality. If a person seems to require consistently more than eight hours, the quality of that individual’s sleep may be abnormal. Insufficient sleep and/or poor quality sleep will inevitably lead to chronic sleep deprivation. Chronic sleep deprivation produces varying degrees of excessive daytime sleepiness and subsequent adverse consequences such as impaired work performance and increased risk of accidents. The healthy perspective is to sleep well and sleep enough on a consistent basis.
Dan Smith, M.D.
Specialists in Pulmonary Care &
The Chattanooga Sleep Center
1032 McCallie Ave, Suite 300
Chattanooga, TN 37403