Last updated: May 04, 2010

"Let's be honest about what we need and raise an eyebrow at those who claim they don't 'need' sleep."



I don't care if Martha Stewart gets by on no rest. I'm proud to say I need my eight hours a night.

Last week, I snoozed through my alarm in Los Angeles at 7:30 a.m. but was awakened a few minutes later by a friend calling from New York. I cleared my throat and said, “Hello?” with as much liveliness as I could.

“Oh, Im sorry,” my friend said. “Were you sleeping?”

“No, of course not,” I said. “I was awake. I was just … lying here.”

And lying I was. The fact was, I felt guilty … for sleeping. Its ridiculous, really. Im a mammal. I need to sleep. But I cant help but notice the pride people always take in declaring how early they woke up. Its as if weve all become the Pod People from Invasion of the Body Snatchers; if were weak enough to fall asleep, theyll come and get us!

Its a shame because I cherish my sleep. The closer I get to eight hours a night, the less coffee I drink, the smarter my food choices are, and the more productive, happy, and healthy I feel overall. But if I tell people I aim for eight hours, I usually get a “Lucky you,” or “Eight hours? Geez, I cant remember the last time I slept that long.”

It makes me wonder, When was it that sleep became such a Queen-of-Sheba activity? We dont scoff at other natural functions: “Oh, no, I rarely use the toilet. I cant believe that you can find the time to do that!” Sleep is the same thing: a vital physiological function! It lets your mind rest, your worries subside, your organs renew.

I realize, of course, some of us have a harder time squeezing in a good nights rest. People who have two or three jobs, family commitments, housework, homework, and kids have built-in challenges. But I also think our Keeping-up-with-the-Joneses approach to life is whats sending sleep to the bottom of our priority lists. After all, some of the most famously productive and high-energy celebrities eschew sleep: Madonna has said she only sleeps four hours a night, and like Martha Stewart said, “I dont need a lot of sleep. I find that when you have a real interest in life and a curious life that sleep is not the most important thing.” But Im interested, Martha! Im just less interested and less curious if I cant keep my drowsy eyes open to appreciate it!

The fact is, people who can thrive on so little sleep are anomalies—like models who can eat cheeseburgers without gaining a pound. For the rest of us, our bodies abide by the laws of nature, and we owe it to ourselves to fully replenish. So lets get honest about what we need and raise an eyebrow at those who claim they dont “need” sleep. Ill no longer be ashamed of my eight hours. Calling all women: give yourself the gift of sleep! Dont let anyone—your husband, boss, family, or friends—make you feel like youre not a rock star if you cant hack it without the zzzs. Because youll rock it smarter, faster, and better with a well-rested smile on your face.