But Really, You Need At Least 7 Hours Of Sleep Each Night

If you're at all questioning whether you need to catch more Z's, the answer is probably "yes."

Diagnosing your sleep deprivation just got a whole lot easier.

Recently the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society arrived at a consensus recommendation on just how much time adults between the ages of 18 and 60 need to log each night -- and it turns out that seven hours of sleep is truly the magic number.

“Sleep is critical to health, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise,” Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, the incoming AASM president and consensus panel moderator, said in a statement. “Our consensus panel found that sleeping six or fewer hours per night is inadequate to sustain health and safety in adults, and agreed that seven or more hours of sleep per night is recommended for all healthy adults.”

Over a 12-month period, the collaborative team of 15 experts from the two organizations scoured 5,314 scientific articles that address the relationship between sleep duration and health to arrive at their ideal snooze time recommendation. They also factored in nine different health categories -- general health, cardiovascular health, metabolic health, mental health, immunologic function, human performance, cancer, pain, and mortality -- and how they interact with sleep time.

More than a third of the population is not getting enough sleep, so the focus needs to be on achieving the recommended minimum hours of nightly sleep,” said Watson. Sleep deprivation, or logging less than seven hours each night, is a public health epidemic, exacerbating health problems like a weight gain and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, depression, and increased risk of death. It's also associated with reduced immune function, increased pain and impaired job performance.

The panel was clear with minimum sleep requirements, but they did not set a maximum in the way the National Sleep Foundation did earlier this year. While recent research has highlighted how often sleeping more than nine hours per night as an adult can be a symptom of a separate health issue, this panel of experts noted that a high quantity of sleep can be appropriate for young adults, as well as individuals recovering from sleep debt or struggling with other illnesses.

“Long sleep duration is more likely to reflect chronic illness than to cause it, and few experimental laboratory studies have examined the health effects of long sleep duration," Watson said.

They also noted how it's not just the quantity of sleep that matters, but when it is achieved and how consistently we meet our sleep needs over a given period time. Good sleep hygiene is required to make the most of the minutes you actually spend between the sheets.

So take it from the experts on this one, and go to bed already.

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