Studies find 8 hours of sleep is not necessarily the right amount

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Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 5:27 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- For years we've heard eight hours of sleep is optimal. Now, data from a few studies find that number may change. So how many hours of sleep is the right amount?

“It can be anywhere from five to eight.” For Sarasota resident Naomi Adelman, the sweet spot is somewhere in between, but recently her sleep was interrupted. “In rehab it was horrible; I wasn’t getting more than four hours straight sleep a night, and I was never able to go back to bed.”

Now, she is back to her usual sleep pattern. However, her grandson Sam Jones, a recent college graduate living at home, suffers from lack of sleep routine. “I have a part time job on the weekends, and a lot of time I'll end up oversleeping, and then I'll end up feeling horrible the next day, or I just won't sleep at all. I'll pull an all-nighter..I’ll just be up for twenty-four straight hours.”

He says his sleep schedule is completely erratic and disruptive. “I don't feel good the next day. Either I'll sleep for twelve hours and I'll feel horrible, or I'll sleep for two hours and I'll feel horrible. I can never seem to get a happy medium.”

How little is two little?

“Typically four or five hours is too little sleep for anybody.” Director of Serenity Place at Doctor's Hospital of Sarasota, Michael Fitzgerald, says over time too little sleep can dramatically impact your health, including memory, judgment and attention. “It'll affect your mood in ways where you may have anxiety, or mild symptoms of depression, definitely making your daily activities more difficult to accomplish.”

What if you catch too many Z’s?

“Too much sleep can have very similar effects.”

Research now finds seven is the optimal amount of hours you should spend sleeping, and Jones is right on target. “They say eight hours, but honestly someone growing up, it's usually about seven to eight hours is better, probably a little bit less.”

But Fitzgerald says it’s not a fast and steady rule. “Getting the appropriate amount of sleep for you as an individual definitely makes the difference in how you're able to fight off different types of diseases, the common cold, flu, things of that nature.”

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