Getting More or Less Than 7 Hours of Sleep Could Kill You

August 2, 2010

Sleeping Cat (Chattahbox) – Sleep researchers have figured out that seven is the magic number when it comes to how long you sleep.  Too much more or less seems to increase the risk of coronary artery disease.

We all know too little sleep is bad for you, but this new research found that sleeping longer than nine hours makes you 1.5 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.  Of course, the people who were most at risk were adults under 60 who slept 5 or fewer hours each day.  For example, a woman in this category is 2.5 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.  For these people, sleeping in for 10 hours on the weekend improved their physical and mental status significantly.This study, like most studies out there, cannot prove causation, only correlation.  While getting too little sleep seems like an obvious cause of heart problems and strokes, it’s impossible to tell if those people getting too much (or even too little) sleep are causing their health problems, or whether some hidden health problems are causing their bizarre sleep patterns.  Hypothyroidism, for example, can cause heart problems in some people, and it also causes excessive sleepiness.  However, most labs and doctors have no idea what the proper range is for thyroid blood levels (according to the latest American Council of Clinical Endocrinologist standards), nor how to adequately treat the large chunk of cases that fall outside what they’re taught in medical school, so many people go throughout life exhausted and at risk for a heart attack.  The sleepiness is a symptom of the potential heart troubles, rather than the cause of it.  And hypothyroidism is just one of many, many disorders in which both insomnia/sleepiness and heart disease could be symptoms, rather than one causing the other.

Although they couldn’t test every subject for every possible disease, the results were obtained after accounting for nearly every factor you could think of:  age, race, weight, gender, smoking habits, drinking habits, and known pre-existing health conditions, to name a few.  The results were the same across the board.  Too much sleep is bad, too little sleep is way worse, and sleeping in on the weekend helps a little if you fall into the latter category.


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