If you read many health articles, you know that there are specific minimum amounts of times set for quality sleeping. Everyone knows that not getting enough sleep will bring you negative impacts, such as lack of focus and concentration, fatigue, reduced performance, and so much more, which can affect your health. That’s why we fall to the assumption that long night sleep is always better – and you are probably compelled to spend nine hours every night.
However, there are some studies that reveal that sleeping too long may not be good either for your health; and it is very possible that you will end up suffering from some ailments. Now it seems that we are torn apart between having too little and too much sleeping – since both of them are bad. Ok, we get it; not getting enough sleep may lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and also heart issue, but what about getting too much sleep? Can you seriously get health problems because of it?
There is a long term research that has been implemented for more than ten years, revealing that adults are sleeping for more than 8 hours or less than 6 hours face higher risks of early death when compared to adults sleeping in between six and eight hours. In fact, there is an increase in mortality rate of people who aren’t included within the 6-to-8 hour regime.
You may laugh at the research, thinking what on earth these people are doing such unimportant research. But for scientists and health experts, knowing the exact factor of what causes the major ailments and what things are considered responsible for the health issues is crucial. Some things may be the primary reason for the increased mortality rate. First of all, it is not the long hours that ‘kill’ them but the underlying condition that may not show as health symptoms. People who sleep for too long may suffer from a certain ailment that has no symptoms, or they may be depressed and require sleeping pills to help them sleep better – although the latter is still on debate and not truly based on scientific claims and data.
Professor Franco Cappucio has been analyzing 16 studies related to sleeping habits. Being the professor of epidemiology and cardiovascular medicine at Warwick University, he has interacted with a million people, asking about their sleeping habits and also follows it up over time. He divided the subjects into three main groups:
- Individuals who sleep less than 6 hours per night
- People who sleep between 6 and 8 hours per night
- People who sleep more than 8 hours per night
From his study, he reveals that around 12% of the short sleepers died during the follow-up periods when compared to the medium sleepers. However, 30% of the long sleepers had also died when compared to the medium group. From this number alone, there is a significant increase in the mortality risk which is almost the same as smoking or increased alcohol consumption on a daily basis.
Different Perspective and Point of View
However, you can’t take the data as it is as there are so many hidden factors and facts about this subject. The biggest possibility is that there is a hidden illness that people aren’t aware they are suffering. Moreover, healthy people in general claim that they ‘only’ need around 7 hours of sleeping to make them feel refreshed and ready to start another new day. Those who have spent more than 8 hours sleeping and still feel tired may need to check themselves – whether they suffer from a certain medical issue or not.
Not everyone, though, agrees on this term. Professor Shawn Youngstedt from Arizona State University performs a small research with 14 young adults. In this study, he persuades the participants to spend extra two hours in bed for around three weeks. The result is that most of them report back with increased depressed mood and increased inflammation. When checked, their IL-61 protein level in their blood also increases – and this protein is associated with inflammation. Aside from increased depression and inflammation, the participants also complain about back pain and soreness. It seems that the problem with too much time sleep isn’t about the sleeping itself, but more to the inactivity problems that goes along with it. Youngstedt is now experimenting with less sleeping habit, where the long sleepers and medium sleepers participants are asked to spend an hour less night in bed. He will reveal the result soon enough.
The problem with this kind of research isn’t about the many hidden elements and factors, but on the accuracy of sleeping measurement itself. When you are asked about your average sleeping time, you rely on your memory. And the fact that there is no exact distinction on when your sleeping cycle begins and ends just adds up the complexity of the issue. For instance, you don’t know whether your sleeping hour starts from the moment you get into bed or at the time when you fall asleep. Or you don’t know whether it starts from the moment you doze off or from the moment you have deep sleep – everything isn’t exactly clear.
Moreover, adults’ sleeping cycle and hour is different from those of teens, children, and babies. If the claim ‘less than 6 hours and more than 8 hours’ is bad for adults, then what does our body wants, actually? Why there are so many different requirements applied for different age range? What’s the ideal amount of sleeping time needed?
Moreover, there are evidences that people before the 17th century had two separated sleeping segments, where they spent an hour or two sleeping, then they did regular activity of going to the toilet, chatting, praying, reading, smoking, or even having sex or visiting neighbors, before they went back to sleeping. Does it mean that two separated sleeping segments are better than one uninterrupted stretch? Again, it is remain unclear and scientists need to dig deeper into the issue for solid answer.