Well, there is actually a group of scientists who are part of the National Sleep Foundation who do studies on this very topic. I, personally, am not so sure how many actually listen and follow their guidelines but there is a published chart based on ages.
Even set on the largest print, it is difficult to read so let me interpret some of it for you. At the very top is the older adult (65+) who needs only 7 - 8 hours of sleep, next is ages 26 - 64 who need 7 - 9 hours of sleep. This is the part where I will be stepping in and throwing my unsolicited opinion on this matter.
What 26 year old has a sleep routine of 7 - 9 hours of sleep per night? They are out at movies that begin showing at 9, so they are not home before 11:30ish. Then getting up by 7:00 A.M. for work, or the gym and finally, actually showing up for work. It is the "9 to 5" American work dream. Not my dream, that is for sure. Somehow, it felt so mechanical. Wake up, eat breakfast on the run, drive in rush hour to work, work, come home in rush hour traffic, cook dinner, read/talk/write and go to bed to start it all over again. There was a point in there that Steve and I came home and went out to concerts, ballgames, movies and other entertaining places during the workweek. (Mind you, we were in our 40's, not 20's!) THEN, our jobs became more demanding.
Is that how it is supposed to happen? Well, it did for us and I can see it happening to others as companies continue to downsize and require more of each employee than is humanly possible. Throw in having a newborn or toddler in the house and you can basically realize what it must feel like to be a walking zombie. One must work sleep in whenever possible.
This is a good point to add the fact that schools are now expected to be open 6 A.M. until 6 P.M. for day care, and to have special programs that help to keep parents informed. When I was working, it was so true, that we had so few adults show up that we had to begin classroom contests for those rooms who had the most parents in attendance to win a pizza lunch or a jean day, or perhaps we had a grant to cater a meal in (this did become a bit more difficult because not everyone knew how to RSVP and we would run out of food). There was math night, reading night, ESL night, etc., etc! The point being was that it no longer was a 9 - 5 job. It was a 7 - 9 job. Just slip a cot into my office so that I could get the sleep that I was being deprived of way too much of the time.
On the weekends, we caught up somewhat. We could not go crazy, because there were still the errands that needed to be done. One does becomes grateful for what we do receive. Every little bit helps.
As Danielle LaPorte shares with us, we must prioritize good sleep for the simple fact that it demonstrates good self love. Taking care of ourselves should be a number one priority. Sleep is at the top of the list, in my book, because it basically determines how my days will work out.
This is most definitely when I started changing things in my own life. I started each day with a positive meditation. This is very important to me. Then, I started sharing my positive mantra of the day. By putting it out to others, it helped me keep centered. If others liked it, then all the better, but they certainly did not have to, much less even read it. First, I started putting them on little notes at work and called it "milestones." When I would go into classrooms, I would see my notes all around some of the rooms. In fact, some teachers shared with me that they loved the positive outlook to start their day and they even shared them with their students.
Next, step was to put up a daily positive meditation on my Facebook page that I used for me to start my day. This was very important for me. My quiet time of the day and the time that I used to be sure my mindset was where it needed to be in order to create what I was working on that particular day.
I could not do this on 5 - 6 hours of sleep. NO WAY! This mindset helped me get through on less sleep than I really needed when it happened and you had better believe that it happened, oh yes!
Sleep is so very important, and it is different for everyone.
My dear, sweet husband knows what it is like to be around me first thing when I wake up. He even has a word for it. He calls it my dinkiness stage. Plus, he actually told me that he loves me in this stage. The only way that I can describe it is that I feel as if I am in 'La La Land.' It does not matter how long my sleep is...a full night of sleep or an afternoon siesta. He just is aware that I am not quite all there and need a moment to recalculate. He even makes my coffee to help spur me onward and upward. I have a whole latte love for him.