Sleep is one of the most important things that we as humans need to survive. Getting sufficient amount of sleep not only allows us to feel recharged the next day but also gives our body time to repair and recover.
However, as with most things, moderation is key.
While we all know and have at some point experienced the ill effects of not getting enough sleep, research now sheds light on the dangers of sleeping too much.
Yes, you read right, there’s such a thing as getting too much shut eye.
According to researchers at the University of Sydney, sleeping more than 9 hours each night causes similar health risks as drinking as smoking.
The study’s findings, which is published in the PLOS Medicine Journal, found that sleeping too much when compounded with sitting around all day or having an inactive lifestyle/lack of exercise makes you 4 times more likely end up with an early death.
To be more precise,
- Sleeping too much equates to more than 9 hours a night, while
- Too much sitting comes out to over 7 hours
- Not enough exercise is less than 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of physical activity each week
Large Scale, 6 Year Follow Up
Researchers used data gathered from questionnaires given to the participants, which allowed them to understand the lifestyle choices of the individuals including diet, alcohol intake, time spent seated through the day, whether or not they smoked as well as sleep duration.
The study comprised of over 231,000 participants whose results after a 6 year follow up showed that among the various combinations of lifestyle activities, those that involved,
- Prolonged sitting,
- Lack of physical activity,
- Long sleep hours
- High alcohol consumption
Had the strongest correlation to mortality.
Lifestyle Choices: What to Avoid
According to the data from the study, the 2 worst combinations are:
- Sleeping too much, sitting too long and lack of exercise, or
- Smoking, high consumption of alcohol and less than 7 hours sleep nightly
Each of the combinations increase your risk of dying early by 4 times.
In addition, the following combinations double risk of dying earlier than you should:
- Smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol
- Too much sleeping and being physically inactive
- Sitting too much and being inactive physically.
As such, it makes sense to avoid getting into the habit of doing them, especially in combination.
Takeaways from the Study
The large number of participants as well as the 6 year follow-up period provides us with a good amount of information whereby we can adjust our lifestyles to avoid the risk of early death.
Summing up the different items observed by researchers, here are some things you can do or modify to help yourself live longer and healthier.
- Sleep between 7 to 9 hours per night.
- Get enough physical exercise, with the target of 150 minutes each week.
- Don’t spend most of the day seated, ie. less than 7 hours.
- Don’t smoke or stop smoking.
- Drink alcohol moderately.