The painting shows a couple asleep in bed.
1893 Oil painting by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec entitled Dans le Lit. The original painting is in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Everyone feels better after a good night’s sleep, but did you know that sleeping well:
•    lowers your risk for cancer, heart disease, depression and other disorders?
•    helps you remember more and learn better?
•    may help you lose weight? []

But what is a good night’s sleep? There is good science to let us how much to eat and how long to exercise, but NOT for how long to sleep.  We know too little sleep is bad but now how little is too little.
That lack of evidence hasn’t stopped doctors from telling patients to sleep longer. Lisa Anne Matricciani and her team studied the history of doctors’ advice about sleep.  Even though people used to sleep longer, doctors still recommended they sleep more—on average, 37 minutes more. Matricciani’s group also found that doctors always blame their patients’ poor sleep on new technology: the change from candles to gas lights to light bulbs; or the change from radio to television to computer games! {1}   []
What do we know about sleep? The National Sleep Foundation ( and the American Association of Sleep Medicine ( report that:
•    different people need different amounts.  People should sleep long enough to feel refreshed when they wake, and to feel alert for most of the day.  Most doctors recommend adults sleep 7-9 hours per night, but 6-8 hours may be enough; (
•    our sleep needs are shaped by our culture, age, health, activity, and genetics;
•    naps aren’t just for kids. Many teens and adults benefit from a 10-30 minute nap, so long as it is at least three hours before bedtime; []
•    people who get regular exercise during the day (not during the evening and especially not right before bed) typically sleep better at night;
•    most people sleep best when the room temperature is 60-67 degrees;
•    it is normal even for adults to wake briefly every couple of hours; and
•    most people sleep better if they stick to the same bedtime, weekend or not.

In short, what a “good night’s sleep” is different for different people, but getting a good night’s sleep does everyone good.  Talk to your doctor if you are not waking refreshed and staying alert during the day.

{1} Lisa Anne Matricciana et al., Never Enough Sleep: A Brief History of Sleep Recommendations for Children, Pediatrics 129: 548-556, 2012

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