It doesn't take a rocket scientist – or a somnologist – to figure out that sleep impacts our health. What many of us don't know, is just how many different aspects of our functioning sleep can affect. "It's not just diabetes, it's not just heart disease; it's memory, learning, depression, mood," says Kristen Knutson, a National Sleep Foundation poll scholar and assistant professor of medicine at University of Chicago. "There's a huge effect of sleep across the board for us, throughout our lives."
We aren't yet able to calculate the perfect amount of sleep for each person, but studies have shown that seven to eight hours of quality rest is likely the sweet spot. In order to achieve optimum sleep, Knutson says people should do their best to stick to a sleep schedule, shut down electronics well before bedtime, and recognize that sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Research that reviewed 16 previous studies found that people who sleep more than eight or less than seven hours a night had a 30-percent greater risk of dying prematurely. While making sure you get enough sleep is a smart move, Knutson says people shouldn't get too worried about the health effects of oversleeping. In many cases, she says people who report sleeping for long periods have preexisting health problems or are saying they're sleeping when they're really just lying in bed.
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