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Despite What You've Heard, Sleep Deprivation Isn't Something Most Americans Need To Worry About

September 16, 2015 2 min read

Longer work days, fewer vacations. Over scheduled social lives. Ample night time artificial lighting. It all creates a recipe for less quality sleep which has lead to alarm headlines proclaiming that a sleep crisis has befallen American citizens. The only trouble with this is that it might not be true. A new study analysis in Sleep Medicine Reveiws found that most Americans are actually sleeping a healthy amount. Researchers at Arizona State University looked at the data from studies going back 50 years and found that Americans were, and still are, getting, on average, 7 hours and 20 minutes of sleep per night. That fits right inside that 7-8 hours a night we're told to be getting. So what gives with the alarming headlines? Well, the research that lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk for depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, is correct. It is the idea that people aren't sleeping enough that is incorrect. sleeping-in-bed-tumblr-wimn9ixk "One of the main points we tried to emphasize in this paper is that our results are actually consistent with several extensive reviews of reported data which also indicate that sleep duration has not changed over the last half-century, nor has the percentage of people who sleep less than six hours a night," says lead author Shawn Youngstedt, Ph.D. "Not all studies have shown this, but the majority have." He says the majority of confusion comes from a misunderstanding about what exactly defines optimum sleep. "Just like one can get too much water, sunlight, vitamins, or food, there are dozens of studies which suggest that one can get too much sleep," he explains. "Eight hours of nighttime sleep was traditionally thought to be the ideal amount for health. However, eight or more hours has consistently been shown to be linked with mortality and other health risks. So, from a public health perspective, sleeping longer might be a greater concern." All this panic and alarm may actually be causing people to get less sleep! Who needs ONE MORE THING to worry about? And sleeping pills? They do you no favours! Avoid sleeping pills; nightly use of a sleeping pill is as hazardous as smoking at least a pack of cigarettes a day," says Youngstedt. His advice? Relax and listen to what your body is telling you! Youngstedt says 7 hours of sleep has seen the fewest related health risks but there really is no perfect number. If you feel better sleeping a little more, or a little less, have at it!  "Trying to [force yourself to] sleep more is liable to cause you to sleep worse and could be harmful to health," he says. So, take this health concern off your plate and enjoy your shut eye! How many hours of sleep leave you feeling refreshed, energized and alert? Source: Shape Do you follow us on Instagram? [caption id="attachment_109236" align="alignnone" width="100"]snapchat code @BodyRockTV[/caption]

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