Local Expert Series: Perfecting Your Sleep Patterns
By: Marcy Stern, EdD, LMHC
The National Institute of Health recommends 7-9 hours of sleep every night, but your actual sleep needs should be determined on an individual basis. To remove the guesswork, keep a sleep log for three weeks (21 consecutive nights and days).
- Write down the number of hours and minutes (as close as you can guess) you sleep each night. Additionally, during those three weeks, log any additional time that you may sleep/nap during the day. Make sure to add this to your total.
- Finally, keep track of times when you felt sleepy, fatigued, tired enough to want to sleep (or did sleep) during the day, and write down how long these episodes lasted.
- My formula:
- Add the numbers of hours slept for 21 consecutive nights.
- Divide that number by 21.
- Add the hours you felt sleepy, fatigued, and tired enough to want to sleep/slept during the day. Divide that number by 21.
- Now, add A and B together.
128 hours + 6.08 hours = 134.08hours/21nights/days = 6.4 hours per night
If you are alert during the day, and not feeling sick or out of energy, the result is your ideal number of hours of sleep each day. If this doesn’t feel right, I recommend doing another three-week self-study. After you have identified the number that fits for you, you can make a sleep schedule that fits your needs. Next week, we’ll discuss “Your Sleep Environment.”
About the Author
Marcy Stern brings more than 20 years of experience as a licensed mental health counselor to her position at Orlando Health’s UF Health Center’s Department of Integrative Medicine. As a psychotherapist, her role is to assess and manage patients struggling with the emotional and psychological effects of diseases and their treatments. Some of the groups she oversees include Cancer Support, Sleep 101, Memory, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and Survivorship.