Monday, May 3, 2010

Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Getting the Right Amount of Sleep May Save Your Life

Like in the fairytale, finding the perfect fit in any situation can be hard. But getting the right amount of sleep is worth the effort, according to a study from the May issue of the journal SLEEP, which found that sleeping too much or too little can raise a person’s risk for death.

The researchers reviewed 16 past studies, which included more than 1.3 million male and female participants. The participants came from eight different countries. Anyone under 60 years of age was considered younger. Anyone 60 or more years of age was considered older.

The researchers assessed sleep duration through questionnaires and study outcomes through death certificates.

Short sleep duration was considered less than seven hours, although it was often less than five hours. Long sleep duration was considered anything more than eight or nine hours of sleep.

In contrast to people who slept seven to eight hours per night, the results indicate that short sleep duration raised people’s risk for death by 12 percent.

Long sleep duration raised people’s risk for death by 30 percent. The researchers suggest that sleeping nine hours or more per night may indicate undiagnosed health issues.

The results did not differ by gender or socioeconomic status.

The researchers suggest that in the U.S., sleeping less than seven hours per night may contribute to more than 25 million deaths in people twenty years or older per year.

These results support a growing body of evidence that too much sleep or too little sleep can lead to poor heath outcomes.

Many people with sleep apnea do not know that they have the condition and that it keeps them from getting restorative sleep. Although they may try to get a healthy amount of sleep, their brain wakes them up throughout the night to breathe. This fragmented sleep pattern decreases the number of restful hours of sleep they get each night, which is why sleep apnea requires treatment.

Get tested for sleep apnea at a sleep center.

Image by Valerie

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.