02 October 2013

Sleeping Too Little, Too Much Has Negative Impact On Health

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According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting either too much or too little sleep can lead to chronic diseases.

CDC researchers surveyed more than 54,000 participants 45-years-old or older across 14 states on their sleeping habits. Although 64 percent of these people were classified as optimal sleepers, getting between seven to nine hours of sleep a night, a large chunk showed very unhealthy sleep habits.

“Some of the relationships between unhealthy sleep durations and chronic diseases were partially explained by frequent mental distress and obesity,” Janet B. Croft, PhD, senior chronic disease epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Population Health and co-author of the study published in the journal SLEEP, said in a press release. “This suggests that physicians should consider monitoring mental health and body weight in addition to sleep health for patients with chronic diseases.”

Researchers found that people who receive either six hours or less of sleep or 10 hours or more are at a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and obesity. The CDC found that 31 percent of adults in the US are short sleepers, while 4.1 percent sleep longer than they need to.

“It’s critical that adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night to receive the health benefits of sleep, but this is especially true for those battling a chronic condition,” Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), said in a statement. “Common sleep illnesses – including sleep apnea and insomnia – occur frequently in people with a chronic disease and can hinder your ability to sleep soundly. 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.”

The researchers found that short sleepers reported a higher prevalence of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes, in addition to obesity and frequent mental distress. The associations with coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes were even more pronounced for those who overslept.

“Sleeping longer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleeping well. It is important to understand that both the quality and quantity of sleep impact your health,” said Badr. “A healthy, balanced lifestyle is not limited to diet and fitness; when and how you sleep is just as important as what you eat or how you exercise.”

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