How much sleep do we really need?

How much sleep do we really need?There are varying reports that suggest eight hours is too much, not enough or that it’s just right. So what’s the recommended amount?

18 experts from the National Sleep Foundation – based in the US – examined 320 research articles to update their study titled “sleep time duration recommendations”. The articles were chosen by the strength of the studies from an original 2,142. The sleeping experts took into account both the risks and health benefits when making their recommendations.

If you suffer from a poor night’s sleep over an extended period of time it may leave you tired, depressed, anxious, unable to concentrate and if it continues, it can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Too much sleep can also cause the same problems.

What’s the solution?

We all want to know how much sleep we need, but most advice revolves around the one-size-fits all eight hours recommendation. The new guidelines have introduced age brackets into the recommended sleep allowance:

  • Ages six to nine need nine to 11 hours, but can get away with seven to eight.
  • Teens need eight to 10 hours per night. They may be able to get by on seven hours, but more than 11 can be harmful to their health. Although they may need this amount if going through puberty.
  • Adults aged 18 to 64 need seven to nine hours sleep, but some can manage with six.
  • For people who are aged 65 or over, seven to eight hours is recommended. Although some may wake up early to have a nap later in the day.

All of the recommendations are based on an in-depth analysis on a number of quality studies. Some research included tests carried out in laboratory conditions, while others were based on how much sleep the subjects reported they had at home.

One of the experts from the study, Dr Lydia DonCarlos, added: “We spend one third of our life asleep, but we know so little about it.” But at least we now know how much to aim for to stay healthy is a good start.

How much sleep do you aim for each night? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Read and comment on the original Guardian article.

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Ross East

Written by Ross East

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