THE SIGNIFICANCE

The National Institutes of Health describes sleep as a fundamental component of our daily routine, emphasizing the essential role it plays in our ability to function. While sleep health has historically been addressed solely in the context of specific disorders, sufficient sleep is now being recognized as a key lifestyle behavior.

THE EVIDENCE

According to NIH sleep experts Dr. Merrill Mitler and Dr. Michael Twery, sleep affects numerous tissues and organ systems, influences intellectual performance and mood, and ultimately impacts our overall health and well-being.

Evidence shows that inadequate sleep increases the risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Sleep deficiency can also cause significant impairment in cognitive function, emotional behavior, and mental resilience. Despite research emphasizing the negative health outcomes of poor sleep, the CDC found that approximately one-third of adults report sleeping less than 7 hours per night in addition to concomitant problems with daily functioning.

THE RECOMMENDATIONS

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Sleep Research Society, National Sleep Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 7 hours per night on a regular basis for adults aged 18 and above to prevent health risks and performance decrements. Some individuals may require more hours of sleep such as 8 or 9 hours per night to feel refreshed and alert in the daytime. Many individuals, however, struggle to meet this minimum recommendation due to various lifestyle-related factors including occupational stressors, social obligations, and technological distractions. While extrinsic pressures may not always be possible to control, individuals can adapt certain strategies to develop healthy sleep habits.