To sleep, perchance to dream of living to be 100

Jon Bon Jovi croons that he wants to live while he’s alive and sleep when he’s dead. Donald Trump claims he snoozes only three to four hours a night to keep one step ahead of his biggest business competitors. And, according to legend (and several online fact sheets on the matter), Leonardo da Vinci slept a mere 1.5 to two hours per night. Ditto Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin who apparently sometimes slept in half the day – or 4 a.m., whichever came first.


In any event, this week’s national news revelation that seven is the new eight in regard to optimal number of hours humans needs to sleep each night for good overall health was a shocker – at least to me.

Shoot, I haven’t had seven or eight continuous hours of sleep since Carter’s started making little liver pills.

I digress.

According to a recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation, most Americans say they aren’t getting enough sleep. On average, U.S. adults reported sleeping only 6 hours, 31 minutes on weekdays and 7 hours, 22 minutes on weekends. When asked how often they can say “I had a good night’s sleep,” only 44 percent of respondents said “every night or almost every night,” while 25 percent said “rarely” or “never.”

Wimps. Six and a half hours a night and almost seven and a half on weekends? Sheesh, who are they, Rip Van Winkle?

Anyhow, based on these recently-released compilation study results on nightly sleep, not only is seven better than eight; but eight is potentially bad for you. Like really, really bad.

Hmm. If this is true, I know a few teenage boys who are in some serious snooze peril.

Apparently, people who live the longest in the best health get seven hours – anything over that yields no health benefit. In fact, one of the areas of the study followed the sleep activity of about 450 elderly women using devices on their wrist for a week and the researchers ultimately discovered that those who slept fewer than five hours or more than 6.5 hours had a higher mortality.

Man, I’m going to live to be 100! I get about 5.25, if I’m averaging correctly. Alas, sleep lovers, you can take heart.

Dr. Hans Van Dongen, a leading sleep scientist based at Washington State University reacting to this week’s sleep flap, calling it “misleading to tell people a number for sleep duration that may or may not be best for them and that may in fact cause them short-term cognitive impairment or long-term health consequences or, on the flip side, to struggle to get more sleep that they may not actually need. I was a bit shocked to read that in an age of personalized medicine, advocacy groups are embarking on a mission to recommend one specific sleep duration – especially when that duration hasn’t even been firmly established for the average person, let alone different individuals.”

He also said, “We know that the amount of sleep you need depends on circumstances. For example, you may need more sleep when you have lost sleep in previous days, or when your immune system needs to battle an infection, or when you are going to be taking on a particularly difficult or safety-sensitive task the next day. The science is clearly telling us that it’s not so simple as a single number.”

I guess it’s all relative. Some of us simply perform at a higher level on less sleep, I guess.

Well, OK there was that one night last week when I had only three and a half hours of sleep and ended up accidentally facilitating a small kitchen fire the next morning that wiped out the toaster and toaster oven in one fell swoop.

And sure, that same day, I made a cup of coffee in my Keurig without a k-cup and simultaneously burned and undercooked a batch of brownies and blew up the blender when I accidently left a spoon in there.

Hmm, maybe I should grab just a quick little catnap

Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist and night owl / early bird. Contact here with coffee coupons at