How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

Eight hours. That's the nightly sleep recommendation you hear most frequently, the gold standard for a healthy sleep routine. But what if it isn't?

Although eight hours is the number most often associated with a full night's sleep, sleep experts know that there is some degree of variation when it comes to individual sleep needs. Most often, the recommendation for sleep times comes in a range of seven to nine hours, depending on the individual. The National Sleep Foundation currently recommends this seven- to nine-hour range as ideal for healthy adults.

But there is a growing body of research that suggests the ideal amount of sleep may in fact be at the very low end of that range. A number of studies indicate that seven hours -- not eight -- may be the most healthful amount of nightly sleep.

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