There remains no doubt that America is a sleep deprived nation.

Researchers at The Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan have studied the issue of what is the correct amount of sleep for heart and overall health.

The results may surprise you.

They've concluded that you should get a minimum of 6 hours and no more than 7 hours per-day. This sweet spot appears to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

People who manage less — or more — are more prone to cardiovascular disease.

All of our lives, we were advised to get at least 8 hours sleep per-day. The Ford Hospital study debunks this long-standing previous recommendation.

It’s also important to note that this study tracked more than 14,000 people during an extended 8 year period.

“Participants who slept less than six hours or more than seven hours had a higher chance of death due to cardiac causes,” says lead author, Dr. Kartik Gupta, a resident in the hospital’s Division of Internal Medicine, in a statement.

“Levels of an inflammatory marker called CRP (C-reactive protein), which is linked to heart problems, were also raised in those with longer or shorter durations of sleep. The results are consistent with the idea that sleeping around seven hours a night is optimal,” said Kartik.

Kartik and his team adds to the “mounting evidence that sleep, in addition to diet, smoking habits and exercise, is vital to cardiovascular health. It helps clear the body of toxic proteins that can trigger a host of conditions,”including high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries.

“Sleep is often overlooked as something that may play a role in cardiovascular disease,” says Gupta. “It may be among the most cost-effective ways to lower cardiovascular risk. “Based on our data, sleeping six to seven hours a night is associated with more favorable heart health.”

Here is data pulled directly from The Henry Ford Hospital study.

“This latest study analyzes data on 14,079 people who participated in the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They were tracked for about eight years to determine if they died due to heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Their average age was 46, and fewer than one in ten had a history of heart disease, heart failure or stroke.”

“The participants, evenly split between the sexes, were divided into three groups depending on average length of sleep. Levels of CRP and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk scores were then assessed. The latter is widely used to predict death from heart attack, stroke or hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) over the next ten years.”

“The overall average ASCVD risk was 3.5 percent, with the lowest among those having six to seven hours sleep a night. For those having less than six it was 4.6 percent, compared to 3.3 percent for six to seven and more than seven,” according to Gupta.

“ASCVD risk score was, however, the same in those who sleep six to seven hours versus more than seven hours,” says Gupta.

As someone who has always struggled with getting enough sleep on a daily basis, it was comforting to learn that I was a lot closer to the optimal recommendation then I ever thought was possible.

My goal over the past 30 years has been to try and get 5-6 hours per-night; usually coming closer to 4-5 hours.

In terms of my own personal development, I’m going to rededicate my efforts to get 6 hours sleep Daily.

I hope that this information is helpful for you to improve your sleep habits.

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SOURCES: The Henry Ford Hospital and StudyFinds.org