It Takes 9.5 Hours To Sleep For 8 Hours

The big surprise result from tracking my sleep for the past year is how much time I spend awake during seemingly restful nights.

This is (sort of) a follow up to a post from last year about how much time it really takes to work forty hours per week.

I’ve been tracking my sleep since last summer when I picked up a Fitbit. I’ve worn it just about every single night and now that I’m back to living a semi-normal schedule, the results are in — at night, I sleep about as well as an owl on fire.

My goal is to get more than eight hours of actual sleep per night. There are plenty of days which, for whatever reason, I have to exist on 4-5 hours of actual sleep but to make it through those days I need to be plenty rested on the other days.

I say actual sleep because, well, an eight hour timespan in a bed does not yield that much sleep.

Here’s a pretty typical night, if a little on the restless side:

1h45m is a bit high for time awake. 1h is a solid night, 1h20m is about average. If you do the math, this means I was in bed for 10h15m!

Why so much awake time? Well, you gotta get up to pee, get up for water, get up to pee again because you got too much water, wake up because your bed partner is snoring like an overweight old man on a gently rocking boat. It all adds up!

So I’m finding I have to spend a large chunk of my time on sleep — it adds up to a little over 10 hours per night in bed, so more than the third of life number that mattress salesmen like to tote. But that’s okay if it means I can be alert and productive and happy for the remaining hours of my day. Work hard, sleep hard?

Tracking my sleep for an extended time in a variety of scenarios (home, travel, working, not working) has been eye-opening. There’s a lot more that I could say than I’m putting here, but sleep is a rather dull topic.

As for the waking hours — those are still a huge work-in-progress.


I would like to add a special shoutout to the support team at Fitbit who are super nice and helped me out when my Fitbit went wonky. One of the better customer support experiences I’ve had.