Are you sleeping too much? Many of us would quickly respond that there is no such thing as too much sleep. But a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that too much sleep, along with too little sleep, can be linked to chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and obesity.
In this study, too much sleep is defined as 10 or more hours a night. Too little sleep is six hours or less each night. Researchers concluded that adults over age 45 should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night, especially if they have a chronic condition.
The research project included over 54,000 sleepers in 14 states who were all age 45 or older. Of these, 31 percent were considered short sleepers, 64 percent were optimal sleepers and only 4 percent were long sleepers.
The study showed that people who are chronically short on sleep report more cases of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes that adults who sleep seven to nine hours out of each 24 hour day. People who sleep too much had even higher associations with each of those conditions.
The study was published in the October 2013 issue of the Journal SLEEP.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends that people who have one or more of these chronic conditions should meet with a sleep physician to evaluate their sleep patterns. Waking up exhausted after sleeping may be a sign that you have a sleep illness such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
Insomnia, which is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, is the most commonly reported sleep problem in the United States. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes pauses in breathing while you sleep.
These pauses can vary from a few seconds to several minutes and often end with a choking or snorting sound as breathing resumes. Sleep apnea often disrupts deep sleep and is the primary cause of excessive sleepiness during the day.
Sleep illnesses frequently occur in people with chronic diseases. Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the AASM says, "If you are diagnosed with a sleep illness, treating it could significantly improve disease symptoms and your quality of life."