Want to Live Longer? Don’t Sleep So Much

New research links longer sleep duration with a shorter life

Sleepy Dog
C. Ditty/Corbis

If you’re like most people, you’d kill for a longer night’s sleep. But in turn, longer sleep might just kill you. New research shows that adults who sleep more than eight hours a night are at a higher risk of early death.

When Franco Cappuccio of the University of Warwick analyzed 16 sleep studies covering more than a million people, he found that 30 percent of people who slept more than eight hours a night died early, reports Ruth Alexander for the BBC. That’s an 18 percent rise in mortality rate from sleepers who reported getting six hours a night or less in the sack.

Why the increased chance of death? Cappuccio, who corrected for depression and sleeping pill use in his review, thinks it has to do with underlying health issues that could be causing longer sleep. But Alexander reports that another researcher has seen increased inflammation and depression in study participants who got an extra two hours of sleep a night—results that could be related to “prolonged inactivity.”

Cappuccio also co-authored a recent paper about the connection between sleep and strokes. Though his team admits that more research is needed, their findings suggest “a significant increase in stroke risk among long sleepers and a modest increase among short sleepers.”

In the wake of another sleep study that suggests women who get an extra hour of sleep have higher libidos and better genital arousal, what’s a confused sleep seeker to do? “I think the take-home message should not be that more sleep is better, but that it is important to allow ourselves to obtain the sleep that our mind and body needs,” the libido study’s author told the Sydney Morning Herald. That’s consistent with the mortality study—since it found that 12 percent of people who get less than six hours of sleep also died early, the answer could be a solid seven hours of shut-eye per night.

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