There Could Be A Big Problem With Getting Too Much Sleep

Illustrated by Mary Schafrath.
We were just getting the hang of snoozing in this winter weather, but science just had to go and ring the alarms, huh? A new study suggests that, despite how lovely it feels, getting more than eight hours of sleep is associated with some scary stuff. 

In the study, published this week in the journal Neurology, the researchers followed a group of 9,692 participants for about 9.5 years. The participants were all older adults, and the majority of them reported getting an average of six to eight hours of sleep per night at the baseline test.

Over the course of the study, 346 participants had strokes (76 of which were fatal). And, the researchers found that those participants who slept more than eight hours per night were more likely to have had a stroke. Indeed, their risk rose 46% over those who consistently slept between six and eight hours a night.

Of course, this isn't the first study to suggest a relationship between abnormal amounts of sleep and undesirable health effects. Past research has shown that getting less than six hours of shut-eye per night is associated with a heightened stroke risk, and long-term sleep deprivation can cause some pretty horrifying consequences. Other studies also suggest that the perfect amount of sleep is between six and eight hours per night, with anything consistently more or less than that associated with health issues.

Still, it's hard to know whether the abnormal sleep times lead directly to these problems or if both are stemming from an already existing issue, such as depression or insomnia. Also, our sleep needs decrease as we get older, so that eight-hour limit probably isn't totally relevant to anyone in their 20s or 30s. But, it's still a good reminder that as much as we love our ZZZs, we should make sure they're not turning into ZZZZZZs.
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