too much sleep

  1. A wake-up call for bad sleep habits

    Judging by myself and my patients -- not to mention the bags under the eyes of many of the people I meet each day -- I'd say the biggest problem when it comes to sleep is that we don't get nearly enough of it.

    But believe it or not, it's possible to go too far in the other direction as well. Like all good things, you can get way too much sleep -- and too much sleep can be every bit as dangerous as too little.

    One new study spells out the risks I've seen before: More than eight hours of sleep a night will boost your risk of chest pain and coronary artery disease.

    Of course, the study also confirms that those of us who don't get enough should hit the hay a little earlier -- because less than six hours a night can double your risk of heart attack or stroke.

    Too little sleep can also boost the odds of congestive heart failure by 70 percent, according to the study of more than 3,000 people ages 45 and up presented at a recent American College of Cardiology conference.

    That means the sweet spot for sleep -- for most people anyway -- is between six and eight hours a night, or right around the seven nightly hours I've seen recommended from other studies.

    One of those studies found that less than six and more than eight hours can boost the risk of cognitive problems. Too little sleep leads to problems in reasoning, vocabulary, and global cognition, while too much sleep can actually hurt up to six cognitive functions, according to British researchers.

    Another study in 2010 looked at even more extreme levels of sleep, and found even more extreme results. Less than five hours a night doubles the risk of angina, heart disease, heart attack, or stroke -- while nine or more boosts the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.

    What does this mean for you? Get the right amount of sleep, of course.

    Just don't turn to meds for help. Common sleep drugs can increase the risk of a number of health problems, up to and including death itself.

  2. Sleep problems linked to brain problems

    Nothing feels quite as good as sleeping in... especially after a few too many late nights in a row.

    But while it's great to catch a few extra winks every now and then, too much sleep can actually be every bit as bad for you as too little over the long run.

    And now, a new study finds that both undersleepers and oversleepers alike could be snoozing their way to an early mental decline.

    British researchers looked at data on 5,431 office workers who were between the ages of 35 and 55 when the study (the famous Whitehall II) began in 1985. These volunteers were quizzed about their sleep habits once between 1997 and 1999, and again between 2003 an 2004.

    Then, they were given cognitive tests.

    The women who did best on those tests got an average of seven hours of sleep a night, while second-best went to those who got six.

    For men, the precise number of hours didn't matter so much--they did the same as long as they got between six and eight hours a night.

    And when those sleep habits changed, the real problems began.

    The researchers found that volunteers who went from normal sleep during the first survey to too much or too little in the second did so poorly on cognitive tests that it was as if they had suffered between four and seven extra years of aging.

    The researchers say those who got too little sleep had lower scores in reasoning, vocabulary, and global cognitive status.

    Those who got too much, on the other hand, flunked up to six cognitive tests when compared to those who had the same sleep habits all along.

    That's bad enough--but that's not even close to the worst problems that have been linked to poor sleep habits. Other studies have found that people who sleep too little or too much face heart problems, stroke, and even an increased risk of death itself.

    One recent study found that men with insomnia were four times more likely to die during the study period than men who slept well. I have all the details here-- along with a few tips that can help anyone sleep better.

    Consider this your wake-up call.

  3. The perfect time to sleep

    A new study finds that people who sleep seven hours a night have a lower risk for common health problems.

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