CEOs, politicians and other high achievers (we’re looking at you,Hillary Clinton) may only need an insane three to five hours of sleep a night. But normal folk require the optimal eight. Right? Not exactly, according to a glut of new research that shows Americans are on average sleeping less than they used to — and that seven hours might actually be the better span to aim for.
“The lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours,” Shawn Youngstedt, a professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University Phoenix, told the Wall Street Journal. “Eight hours or more has consistently been shown to be hazardous.” Experts still generally recommend the range of seven to nine hours nightly for healthy adults, but the ideal number seems to have dropped ever so slightly. It’s why both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has funded a partnership with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine — the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project — to discern how to best update recommended sleep guidelines in the coming year, and why the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation is doing the same.
The CDC currently suggests seven to eight hours a night for healthy adults, but, a spokesperson told Yahoo Health, “as more evidence is presented by the scientific community, it is expected that these recommendations may change.”
Findings pointing to seven hours as a better goal than eight, according to the Wall Street Journal article, include those by Daniel F. Kripke, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego; in one study, he tracked 1.1 million people who participated in a cancer study, and found that people who reported sleeping 6.5 to 7.4 hours had a lower mortality rate than those with shorter or longer sleep. He also recorded the weeklong sleep activity of about 450 elderly women; a decade later, the researchers found that those who slept fewer than five hours or more than 6.5 hours had a higher mortality.