Sleep Scientists Update Standard

Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has recently adjusted their suggestions for the average amount of sleep people should get during the night. These new recommendations encourage people to smack the snooze button a few more times, or even better, to hit the sack earlier. The NSF convened experts from numerous health related fields and poured through files of data from over 300 studies. Scientists, doctors, and researchers came to the agreement that the standard hours for sleeping should be updated.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sleep deprivation affects 50 to 70 million people in America. Tiredness cannot only cause moody tiffs between co-workers, or ill-performing kids at school, it can be dangerous to human health. Inadequate rest has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. There are also frequent news stories about drivers who get in traffic collisions after dozing off at the wheel. University of Pennsylvania professor, Dr. David Dinges claims that lack of shut-eye can be connected to even bigger catastrophes. He says accidents like the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the partial meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island power plant, and the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl were all due, at least in part, to human exhaustion.

This begs the question of how the problem should be fixed. Simplistic as it seems, the most common answer is that since there is an updated standard for sleep provided by the scientists and researchers at the NSF, the public should follow their suggestions. According to the NSF published report (found on the National Sleep Foundation’s website) there are the new numbers for recommended hours of slumber for most age categories

This updated list includes the two new categories of “Younger Adult” and “Older Adult” as studies have shown that amount of necessary snooze time really does depend on age. According to doctor, professor, and NSF chairman of the board, Charles A. Czeisler, these age-specific time recommendations are based on a determinedly thorough review of the existing publications from all over the world on the subject of correlating health issues to length of sleep.

The NSF was spurred to make changes in their recommended hours partly due to new research which shows that use of electronic devices has ill-effects on us at night. Specifically a study done on teenagers which revealed that use of screens on smartphones, or laptops, or other devices caused sleep to either be delayed or shortened. In some cases many people who use electronics take twice as long to fall asleep than typical health adults. The next step of scientists like those at the NSF will likely be to develop guidelines which outline a healthy amount of time that people should spend using their electronic devices.

Scientists and healthcare professionals believe in the importance of sleep standards such as the ones found in the updated list provided by the NSP because they want to help Americans maintain optimal health. The list was published for the purpose of education, not only so that parents will know how to do what is best for their children, but also so that adults can have a starting point to begin conversations with their doctors. The NSP is dedicated to promoting health through education, so what they really recommend is turning in early and getting more shut-eye.

By Emilee Prado

Sources:
National Sleep Foundation
CBS News
The Independent

Photo by Vera Kratochvil – Public Domain

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