The National Sleep Foundation has released its guidelines for the optimal amount of sleep people should be enjoying each night.

"Sleep health" is now widely recognized among health professionals for its importance to the overall well-being of a person.

"Humans, like all animals, need sleep, along with food, water and oxygen, to survive. For humans sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being," The National Sleep Foundation wrote in its announcement of the study.

Most people, especially adults, do not get enough sleep. Artificial lights, nighttime activities, and stimulants, such as coffee and soda, can all interfere with natural sleep patterns.

Recommended amounts of sleep vary according to age. Newborns should sleep between 14 and 17 hours a day, the report stated. Ideal sleep time for preschoolers is between 10 and 13 hours each night, according to the group, while teenagers should take in eight to 10 hours each cycle. The report said adults between the ages of 26 and 64 should, ideally, sleep between seven and nine out of every 24 hours. Seniors, aged 65 and older, should sleep between seven and eight hours each night, the organization reported.

The National Sleep Foundation gathered together 18 experts on different aspects of sleep, representing groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association. The group analyzed the results of more than 300 studies on sleep, published between 2004 and 2014. The report they generated adds additional age categories to similar studies previously released, and alters other age categories.

"This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety," Charles A. Czeisler, chairman of The National Sleep Foundation, said.

The new report recognizes that some people may feel fine, and be in perfect health sleeping for shorter or longer periods than those recommended by the group. However, sleeping for significantly longer or shorter times than normal can be a symptom of a significant health problem. Doing so can also lead to additional health issues.

People who do not get enough sleep can suffer from high blood pressure and obesity, along with lower productivity while at work. Those who sleep far more than normal can experience an increased risk of heart disease and shortened life spans.

The new report on ideal sleep periods for people in different ages throughout life was detailed in Sleep Health: The Official Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.

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