Is too much sleep bad for your health?

Not getting enough shut-eye can really wreak havoc on our health, but now, new research is lending credence to the old saying, ‘you snooze, you lose.’

The study looked at data from 74 previous studies involving 3.3 million people.

Researchers found that people who slept ten hours per night or more were 30 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who slept the recommended seven to eight hours.

Cleveland Clinic’s Reena Mehra, M.D., did not take part in the study, but said most research to this point has focused on the health outcomes of people who slept less than seven hours.

“What we know is that short sleep is bad for a variety of reasons, and it just may be that range of seven to eight hours is just the right amount of sleep that we need,” she said. “This study found that it was the long-sleepers – those who had longer than seven to eight hours of sleep – that seemed to be at even higher risk than the shorter sleepers in terms of a whole host of cardiovascular outcomes and increased mortality.”

Dr. Mehra said experts know that less than seven hours of sleep per night has been linked to fatigue, inability to focus and negative impact on cardiovascular health, however, the reasons for the increased mortality risk for the long-sleepers are still unclear.

She said it’s possible that even though these individuals reported sleeping longer hours, perhaps the quality of their sleep was not ideal, or that those who slept more had underlying health conditions that were not accounted for.

Dr. Mehra said these data, as well as data from previous research, shows we tend to fare best when we aim for that golden window of seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

“Aim for seven to eight hours per night as much as possible and be consistent,” she said. “There’s also data, not only on the duration of sleep and the quality of sleep, but also on the timing of sleep – trying to make sure that we’re getting a continuous seven to eight hours, during the nighttime, is the best thing for our health.”

Complete results of the study can be found in The Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA).