Sleep is increasingly being recognized for its importance in health and quality of life. In fact, in March 2015 the US Department of Health and Human Services published Health Objectives 2020, identifying the goal of increasing the proportion of adults who obtain sufficient sleep. Numerous studies have examined the association between sleep duration (the number of hours of sleep) and health, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society collected experts in this area to answer the question: How much should adults sleep?
I was not part of this group but have been part of other similar panels. Unfortunately, the recommendations produced from these group meetings tend to be almost too complete, in that they are lengthy and sometimes unclear for readers. Because these were so simple and direct, I will just repeat the entire Consensus Statement that was published in the June 2015 issue of the medical journal SLEEP. They certainly answer a question I am asked all the time (and echo my usual advice to patients, family, and friends).
The Recommendations for Healthy Sleep
Adults should sleep 7 or more hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
- Sleeping less than 7 hours per night on a regular basis is associated with adverse health outcomes, including weight gain and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, depression, and increased risk of death. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is also associated with impaired immune function, increased pain, impaired performance, increased errors, and greater risk of accidents.
- Sleeping more than 9 hours per night on a regular basis may be appropriate for young adults, individuals recovering from sleep debt, and individuals with illnesses. For others, it is uncertain whether sleeping more than 9 hours per night is associated with health risk.
- People concerned they are sleeping too little or too much should consult their healthcare provider.
So if you are up at night reading this on your electronic device, I would recommend turning it off and going to sleep.