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Sleep officially recognised as a defence against the biggest global killer – but how much?

Dr Michael Mosley on the importance of routine for sleep

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As to the recommended amount of sleep, the researchers say seven to nine hours a night is the optimum.

Speaking about the research the AHA’s President Donald Lloyd-Jones said: “The new metric of sleep duration reflects the latest research findings: sleep impacts overall health, and people who have healthier sleep patterns manage health factors such as weight, blood pressure or risk for type 2 diabetes more effectively.”

Professor Ellen Foel added said the effectiveness of sleep was aided by people’s ability to measure it.

She said: “In addition, advances in ways to measure sleep, such as with wearable devices, now offer people the ability to reliably and routinely monitor their sleep habits at home.”

The research forms part of the AHA’s Life Essential Eight, their list of the optimal components of cardiovascular health.
Lloyd-Jones said: “The idea of optimal cardiovascular health is important because it gives people positive goals to work toward at any stage of life.”

Furthermore, it was added the research was carried out as the organisation felt “it was the right time to conduct a comprehensive review of the latest research”.

As to how much sleep was required for cardiovascular health, the researchers wrote: “Sleep duration is associated with cardiovascular health. Measured by average hours of sleep per night, the ideal level is seven to nine hours daily for adults.

“Ideal daily sleep ranges for children are 10-16 hours per 24 hours for ages five and younger; nine-12 hours for six to 12 years; and eight to 10 hours for ages 13-18 years.”

Why sleep is important for world’s young

Sleep isn’t just crucial for the health of adults, it’s essential for people in their earliest years.

To this end, sleep guidance for babies has been updated for the first time since 2016.

The new guidance says parents should ensure babies sleep on their backs and avoid sharing a bed with their parents.

The reason for this comes amid fears over SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

A rare condition in the UK, it tragically takes the lives of 196 children every year.

Professor of Paediatrics Dr Rachell Moon said of the guidance: “If we’ve learnt anything, it’s that simple is best: babies should always sleep in a crib or bassinet, on their back, without soft toys, pillows, blankets, or other bedding.

“The evidence is clear this significantly raises the risk of a baby’s injury or death.”

As well as keeping babies on their backs while sleeping, experts say parents should: “Keep soft objects, such as pillows, pillow-like toys, quilts, comforters, mattress toppers, fur-like materials, and loose bedding, such as blankets and non-fitted sheets, away from the infant’s sleep area to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment/wedging, and strangulation.”

What is SIDS?

SIDS is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby when they sleep; it used to be known as “cot death”.

Most deaths from SIDS occur when a child is in the first six months of their life.

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