Like the Holy Grail, weary people everywhere search for the golden amount of sleep. They want to know just how many hours of rest will leave them feeling refreshed, but still give them as many waking hours to get things done as possible.
According to a new study, between seven and eight hours of shut-eye is enough for adults.
Finnish scientists studied the sleeping patterns of 3,760 people over the course of a seven-year period, paying close attention to the subjects’ sleep disturbances, daytime sleepiness, and use of sleeping pills. They then compared these patterns with data from Finland’s Social Insurance Institution.
They found that men who slept 7.8 hours a night and women who slept 7.6 hours a night showed the least chance of taking off sick time from work.
Though it’s important to get enough sleep, there are several other factors that affect a person’s quality of sleep, too. For example, the amount of light in a room, pain, anxiety, medical conditions, and substances like caffeine can all be detrimental to a person’s sleep.
“Good sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle,” says Lora Cady, Owner of The Sleep Shop. “Folks who exercise and maintain a healthy weight sleep better than those who don’t.”
While these factors might negatively impact how well rested a person feels, the most important factor it seems is the amount of sleep a person gets. According to Harvard Medical School, failing to get enough sleep can result in learning and memory impairments, weight gains, negative moods, worsening cardiovascular health, and even disease.
Shockingly, a 2013 Gallup Poll found that many Americans actually face such risks, as they don’t get the recommended amount of sleep. The poll found that about 65% of people only get seven hours of sleep, tops.
If you find yourself in that majority, perhaps you should revise your nightly routine. Go to bed eight hours before you need to get up, and start shutting off the lights an hour earlier than that. If you do, perhaps you’ll finally get that golden amount of sleep.