Getting a lot of Sleep? That Could Be Harmful.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that more than one-third of the US population suffers from sleep deprivation. They also warned that sleep deprivation increases the risk of serious, chronic, and life-threatening conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer.

However, new research from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and Peking Union Medical College at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in China, has shown that too much sleep may be as detrimental as too little sleep. The study was published in the European Heart Journal.

Dr. Chuangshi Wang, lead author of this study, and his colleagues analyzed the sleep habits of nearly 120,000 people between the ages of 35 and 70 years old who had enrolled in the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study. The researchers were careful to include all pertinent information about the participants in the study, including socioeconomic status, physical activity, lifestyle habits, use of medications, family history, and current medical conditions.

During the eight years of the PURE study, approximately 4500 people died, and another nearly 4500 suffered from either a heart attack or stroke.

Individuals who slept 8 to 9 hours per night were 5% more likely to suffer from premature death or to suffer from a cardiovascular event. Those who slept 9 to 10 hours per night were a staggering 17% more likely to experience these events. This progression continued even further: individuals who slept more than 10 hours per night on a regular basis were a shocking 41% more likely to suffer from premature death or to suffer from a cardiovascular event.

The optimum amount of sleep, according to this research? Six to eight hours per night.

Although these facts were statistically significant and provided a strong link between too much sleep and detrimental effects on an individual’s health, a causal relationship was not determined. In other words, it is clear that sleeping too much has negative health consequences, but the reasons for this are unclear. It is not even known if oversleeping is a direct cause or an underlying contributing factor. All that can be stated with certainty is that more sleep is clearly linked with serious health problems.

It is now being recommended to doctors (and to all of us, as well) to take note of the number of hours per day that we sleep, including daytime naps. For normal adults, anything out of the 6-8 hour range should raise a red flag. People who require more than 8 hours of sleep per night should be considered at high risk for heart disease and blood vessel problems.

At Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, we pay close attention to the needs of our residents, including their sleep hygiene. Our goal is to ensure that our residents have a variety of activities that stimulate both mind and body, so that they do not feel bored, and therefore, sleep to excess. We fashion each day’s recreation schedule with the primary purpose of encouraging social interaction and promoting physical health and fitness. To accommodate different interests and personal preferences, our Activities Director designs flexible schedules, with a variety of stimulating and engaging activity options.

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