National guidance on how many hours people should be sleeping each night could be brought in by the government, according to reports.
The evidence on the relationship between sleep and health will be reviewed and recommendations made for people of different ages, according to The Times.
The newspaper quoted from a leaked draft of a public health green paper which it said is due to be published by Matt Hancock, the health secretary.
It said much of the paper is focused on obesity and smoking, but that it also makes reference to sleep.
According to The Times, extracts say: “As a first step the government will review the evidence on sleep and health.
“This is with a view to informing the case for clear national guidance on the daily recommended hours of sleep for individuals in different age brackets and to raise awareness of the key ‘sleep hygiene’ factors that can support healthy sleeping.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said they do not comment on leaks.
Earlier this year a German team of scientists said, in a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, they had discovered that sleep improves the ability of immune cells to hit their targets and fight off infection.
The NHS currently recommends the average person needs around eight hours of good-quality sleep every night to function properly.
It warns a lack of sleep can make people more prone to a number of medical conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Studies suggest people who sleep less than five hours a night have an advanced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
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