In a new recommendation published in the June issue of SLEEP, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and Sleep Research Society (SRS) recommend that adults obtain 7 or more hours of sleep per night to avoid the health risks of chronic inadequate sleep. In addition, the AASM and SRS do not place an upper limit on the number of hours of sleep recommended per night.

The recommendation follows a 12-month project conducted by a Consensus Panel of 15 of the nation’s foremost sleep experts.

“Sleep is critical to health, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise,” says Nathaniel F. Watson, MD, incoming AASM president and Consensus Panel moderator. “Our Consensus Panel found that sleeping 6 or fewer hours per night is inadequate to sustain health and safety in adults, and agreed that 7 or more hours of sleep per night is recommended for all healthy adults.”

The Consensus Panel did not place an upper limit on recommended sleep duration, agreeing that sleeping more than 9 hours per night on a regular basis may be appropriate for young adults, individuals recovering from sleep debt, and individuals with illnesses.

“More than a third of the population is not getting enough sleep, so the focus needs to be on achieving the recommended minimum hours of nightly sleep,” Watson says. “Long sleep duration is more likely to reflect chronic illness than to cause it, and few experimental laboratory studies have examined the health effects of long sleep duration.”

The benefits of healthy sleep require not only adequate sleep duration, but also appropriate timing, daily regularity, good sleep quality, and the absence of sleep disorders.

The panel of 15 experts in sleep medicine and research used a modified RAND Appropriateness Method to develop a recommendation regarding the sleep duration, or sleep duration range, that promotes optimal health in adults aged 18 to 60 years.

Funding for this project was provided by the AASM and SRS, and by the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AASM, and SRS.