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Not Too Much, Not Too Little! Sleep Just Right for a Healthy Lifestyle

By HERWriter
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don't get too much or too little: the right sleep makes for a healthy lifestyle B-D-S/PhotoSpin

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."

"Some of the relationships between unhealthy sleep durations and chronic diseases were partially explained by frequent mental distress and obesity," said study co-author Janet B. Croft, PhD, senior chronic disease epidemiologist in CDC's Division of Population Health.

"This suggests that physicians should consider monitoring mental health and body weight in addition to sleep health for patients with chronic diseases."

Researchers also state that sleeping for a long time does not necessarily mean you are sleeping well or getting good rest. They encourage patients to consider appropriate sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle in addition to diet and exercise.


Science Daily. Sleeping Too Little, or Too Much, Linked to Heart Disease, Diabetes, Obesity. Web. October 15, 2013.

National Sleep Foundation. Can’t Sleep? What To Know About Insomnia. Web. October 15, 2013.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What Is Sleep Apnea? Web. October 15, 2013.

Reviewed October 16, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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