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A good night's rest may be sleeping only seven hours a night, not eight.

A good night's rest may be sleeping only seven hours a night, not eight.

When it comes to getting enough sleep, conventional wisdom — and most likely your parents too! — have long said that the rule of thumb is to shoot for eight hours a night. That's easier said than done, and odds are many of us don't even come close to hitting that amount on a daily basis. But should we really be aiming for eight hours in the first place? New research indicates that the sweet spot may actually be seven hours.

According to The Wall Street Journal, while consistently falling short of seven hours of sleep can impede memory support the following day, getting too much sleep can be detrimental for your health too. Sleeping for eight hours or longer each night raises the risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and overall mortality.

"The lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours," Shawn Youngstedt, a researcher on oversleeping and professor with Arizona State University's College of Nursing and Health Innovation, told the source. "Eight hours or more has consistently been shown to be hazardous."

But while the ideal amount of sleep may be less than the generally agreed-upon recommendation, studies show that most Americans are still falling short of that. The Wall Street Journal reports that 69 percent of Americans report feeling like they get less sleep than they need on weekdays, for an average amount of 6 hours and 31 minutes. While that may not sound too far off from the seven-hour goal, skimping out on sleep by even just 20 minutes can pose significant health risks.

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