If you’re one of those people who say they can’t function on less than 9-10 hours of sleep a night, you may be teeing yourself up for early death, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers from Keele University, along with colleagues at the University of Manchester, the University of Leeds and the University of East Anglia, examined data from 74 studies involving more than three million people and found that those who slept for 10 hours were 30 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who slept for the recommended eight hours. No significant effect was identified for periods of sleep less than seven hours.
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What’s worse for those who love to sleep, the study found that sleeping for longer than 10 hours was linked to a 56 percent increased risk of death from stroke and a 49 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
The study also found that poor sleep quality was associated with a 44 percent increase in coronary heart disease.
Lead researcher Dr Chun Shing Kwok said the research was sparked by interest in the effects of abnormal sleep. “We further wanted to know how incremental deviation from recommended sleep duration altered risk of mortality and cardiovascular risk.” He said that the study has an important public health impact in that it shows that excessive sleep is a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk.
Our findings have important implications as clinicians should have greater consideration for exploring sleep duration and quality during consultations. If excessive sleep patterns are found, particularly prolonged durations of eight hours or more, then clinicians should consider screening for adverse cardiovascular risk factors and obstructive sleep apnea, which is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep.
“Sleep affects everyone, said Kwok. “The amount and quality of our sleep is complex. There are cultural, social, psychological, behavioral, pathophysiological and environmental influences on our sleep such as the need to care for children or family members, irregular working shift patterns, physical or mental illness, and the 24-hour availability of commodities in modern society.”
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He says the important takeaway here is that abnormal sleep is a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk and “greater consideration should be given in exploring both duration and sleep quality during patient consultations.”