Five Clusters of Sleep Patterns: Two Good, Three, Well, Um…

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) in 2005 conducted a poll to determine people’s sleep patterns and their daily-life outcomes. The NSF labeled these five patterns as “sleep personalities,” which the organization says you can recognize if you pay attention to yourself and others.

Here are the criteria by which the groups naturally allied themselves according to the NSF:  “The commonalities are based on sleep habits and more than 40 other factors including age, marital status, gender, employment status, diagnosed medical conditions, how often they feel tired/fatigued/not up to par, and the amount of caffeinated beverages consumed daily.”

The two “good sleeper” groups are called “Healthy, Lively Larks” and “Sleep Savvy Seniors.” The second group immediately forms a mental image, but let’s face it — with age comes some wisdom, and sleep wisdom appears to be among the benefits of aging.

Sleep Savvy Seniors were 65 years of age or older and slept the most among any of the five groups, an average of 7.3 hours a night compared to 6.8 hours for all groups combined. They also took at least two naps a week. This group, though it may suffer from other medical problems, generally does not count any sleep disorder among its health challenges.

The first group, the Healthy, Lively Larks, was younger than the seniors, generally speaking, and still working as opposed to the seniors, who were mostly retired. This group as a whole could easily go by the moniker of “morning person” and generally does not suffer from any medical condition. In short, they know how and when to sleep and are not troubled by sleep disorders.

Now we get to the more problematical groups.

Dragging Duos are people who live to together and might be considered “workaholics” if the term were still in vogue. Many of them work more than 40 hours a week and bring their work home with them. One of the two often has a sleep problem, which in turn might affect the other’s sleep pattern as well. More than a third of the Dragging Duos reported feeling tired/fatigued at least three days a week.

Overworked, Overwrought and Over-Caffeinated: Well, you get the picture by the title. This group works longer than the other four groups and often at irregular hours. Many of the group suffer from insomnia, but most report that they don’t need much sleep at night. Still, two-thirds of the group reported taking two or three naps a week. Though group respondents said they needed little sleep, they still relied on caffeine to keep them going.

Sleepless and Missin’ the Kissin’ (SAMTKs): This group had the largest proportion of those reporting that they had a hard time sleeping and never seemed to get enough sleep. Most reported being fatigued all the time. Many blamed their partner’s sleep disorders on their own lack of sleep. Problems in intimate relationships are frequent in this group. A majority of this group has a medical condition, and a majority also turns to sleep aids for help getting rest at night.

Which group are you? How about your coworkers and friends? Can you identify into which group you or they might fall? But the most important question concerns yourself. Do you need help with your sleeping? Do you often feel fatigued in the daytime?

You don’t have to stay stuck in one of these sleep personalities. You can change, sometimes through sheer will power and other times through professional help — or even a combination of both. Either way, the time to take stock and make changes is now. Don’t let sleep problems hinder your daily life.

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