Sleep is good for you, right? Of course it is: you need to rest your body and your mind to recover from the stress of the day. Both physically and mentally—and even emotionally—sleep helps to restore us back to neutral to embrace another day.
So you wouldn’t argue when experts recommend that you should get enough sleep. For the sake of argument, experts typically recommend between 7 and 9 hours of sleep of night. And it would seem to follow, then, that getting more than the recommended amount of sleep couldn’t hurt, right? Maybe you are just really tired and need more time to recover from a stressful day?
It might seem that way, but, the results of an alarming new study adds to a growing understanding that unhealthy sleeping habits contributes to an early risk of death. “Unhealthy sleeping habits” include behaviors like sleeping less than 7 hours a night or more than 9 or sleep that is constantly interrupted.
The study aimed at examining various risk factors—in combination—to determine which groupings were the most vulnerable to early death. In all they examined six risk factors—including smoking, alcohol consumption, and unhealthy eating—to find their groupings. Unfortunately, the study found that the ‘triple whammy” for early death is a set of behaviors which appears to be all too common in developed countries.
The study warns that, when grouped with prolonged sitting and lack of exercise, sleeping too many hours has about the same health detriment as smoking and drinking alcohol (in excess). As a matter of fact, the three-way combination of prolonged sleep, lack of exercise, and prolonged sitting was found to be more dangerous than the three-way combo of smoking, drinking (too much), and getting too little sleep (which still results in four times higher risk of death than a “healthy” person).
Most importantly, these “diseases” result in more deaths than infectious disease, in high-income countries.
According to study co-author, Professor Adrian Bauman, “The take-home message from this research—for doctors, health planners and researchers—is that if we want to design public health programs that will reduce the massive burden and cost of lifestyle-related disease we should focus on how these risk factors work together rather than in isolation”.
In the news release, he goes on to say, “Better understanding what combination of risk behaviors poses the biggest threat will guide us on where to best target scarce resources to address this major—and growing –global problem”.