We have all heard about the dangers of failing to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day. However, it was unknown whether sleeping too much can also be detrimental to health. Some may speculate that sleeping more enables the body to save more energy and regenerate cells, but recent scientific evidence runs counter to this assumption.
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Failing to sleep properly is a known risk factor, and it is not only sleep duration that matters, but also sleep quality.
The average adult should sleep for 7 to 8 eight hours a day. For infants, children and teenagers, recommendations vary. Sleep hygiene is also of great importance, as such sleep offenders as noise, light, and low quality mattress can take their toll on sleep quality, thus disrupting your circadian rhythms. Such disruption has been linked to a variety of diseases, from obesity to Alzheimer’s disease.
While lack of sleep is something most people experience due to having to work or study hard or do other chores which leave to extra room for relaxation, there are people who sleep for ten hours a day or even longer. Some of them sleep that long because they have underlying health problems, like chronic fatigue or endocrine disorders, others just got used to such sleeping hours. However beneficial it may seem–remember your mom saying that sleep helps the brain repair your body?–the truth is that sleeping too much is just as dangerous as sleep deprivation.
A team of researchers from Keele University has reported that sleeping for longer than the recommended seven to eight hours is associated with an increased risk of dying prematurely and can be considered a marker of such risk. They also suggested that doctors should ask their patients whether their sleeping patterns fall within the healthy range and advise to undergo exams if they do not.
The investigators analyzed the data collected in the course of 74 projects in which over 3 mln people were enrolled. When they compared their self-reported sleep duration and outcomes, they found that sleeping for 10 hours–something which is seen in quite a lot of teenagers and adults if they are given such an opportunity–was associated with a 30% higher risk of dying prematurely, compared to those who dedicated only 8 hours to sleeping.
Those who slept even more than that, namely longer than ten hours, were at an even greater risk: the risk of stroke was increased by 56%, and they were also 49% more likely to die from a cardiovascular disease.
However, their findings were not limited to sleep duration: according to them, poor quality of sleep can result in a 44% higher risk of coronary heart disease.
It is worthy of note that those with extreme sleep patterns could have a mental disorder or other health problems that prevented them from sleeping normally, and this factor was not taken into account.
Rise and shine
The takeaway is that maintaining quality sleep of 7 to 8 hours daily is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. There are many factors which can force us to deviate from the recommended patterns, such as having irregular working hours or taking care of small children. However, there are contributors which are not that easy to spot, and one of them is amenities.
In this day and age, we have electricity, water and all mod cons available round the clock. Since we have access to the activities which used to require daylight in the past at any time of the day, we are more likely to abuse it and stay up late watching another Game of Throne series.
Try not to be like that. Sleeping for 7 to 8 hours is not only healthy on paper – it is something that can help you boost your performance and feel better.