Getting too little or too much sleep is associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, a new study finds.
“Sleeping longer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleeping well,” said
Dr. Safwan Badr, president of
the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
“It is important to understand that both the quality and quantity of
sleep impact your health . . . When and how you sleep is just as
important as what you eat or how you exercise.”
Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night to
receive the health benefits of sleep, Badr said in an academy news
For the study, published in the October issue of the journal Sleep,
researchers looked at more than 54,000 Americans aged 45 and older in
14 states. About one-third of them were short sleepers (less than six
hours per night), 4 percent were long sleepers (10 or more hours) and 64
percent were optimal sleepers (seven to nine hours).
Compared to optimal sleepers, short sleepers were more likely to have
heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and frequent mental distress.
The same was true for long sleepers, and the associations with heart
disease, stroke and diabetes were even stronger with more sleep.
Study co-author Janet Croft said some of the relationships between
unhealthy sleep duration and chronic diseases were partially explained
by frequent mental distress and obesity. “This suggests that physicians
should consider monitoring mental health and body weight in addition to
sleep health for patients with chronic diseases,” said Croft, a senior
chronic disease epidemiologist in the division of population health at
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sleep illnesses — including sleep apnea and insomnia — occur
frequently in people with a chronic disease and can hinder your ability
to sleep soundly, Badr noted. “So if you’re waking up exhausted, speak
with a sleep physician to see if there’s a problem. If you are diagnosed
with a sleep illness, treating it could significantly improve disease
symptoms and your quality of life,” Badr explained.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sleep and sleep disorders.