We all know that not getting enough sleep can be a real killer, but are you aware that sleeping too much can also be deadly? It may seem crazy, most of us would kill to have an extra hour or two in bed in the morning, but a huge research project has found that oversleeping, while not as deadly in so many ways as under sleeping, can have a negative impact on the length of life. When we read this study we were amazed as the dangers of under sleeping are easy to understand and can even be felt after only one bad night’s sleep.
Most of us love to sleep, in fact for many of us, sleep is right up there as a favourite past time. During the week it can be hard to get enough sleep, you need to get up early to get yourself and the kids sorted for the day, then you have the long commute to work. Up to a third of all Australian adults are sleep deprived and you only need to look around the train or bus to know that this is true. We are a nation with bags under our eyes.
The dangers of under sleeping are multiple and many can impact your life and even, in extreme cases, kill you. There are the risks that come with exhaustion, you are less aware, have poorer coordination and struggle to remember. Sleep deprivation can also cause depression and mood swings. Then there are also a number of physiological aspects that we are only just starting to become aware of, things like the role of sleep in cell regeneration, appetite regulation and even the cleansing of our brains.
Under sleeping is dangerous, but so is oversleeping. The study looked at 54,269 adults who were 45 years of age or older. They completed the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the results were very interesting.
• Almost one-third of respondents, 31.1%, reported that they were sleeping 6 hours or fewer per night, while the majority of respondents, 64.8%, said that they were sleeping in the optimal range of between 7-9 hours, while slightly more than 4% of adults reported that they were sleeping 10 or more hours per night.
• The study found that both under and over sleeping were associated with higher risks of coronary heart disease and stroke.
• They also found that both over and under sleeping were also associated with elevated risk of diabetes and obesity. Both the short and long sleepers were far more likely to report frequent mental distress, which was defined by as having poor mental health on at least 14 or more of the last 30 days.
• Finally, the long sleepers had an even higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes than short sleepers did.
In short, the risks associated with over sleeping are significant. While they are not as obvious as those that come with under sleeping, the immediate dangers of exhaustion and the mental stresses involved, they are just as deadly.
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