“I get too much sleep,” said no one ever!
Let’s be honest: if you heard your friend say that, it would sound about the same as complaining about having too much money or being too good looking. Believe it or not, there are studies that show seven hours of sleep is more beneficial than eight.
So, should we all try to wake up earlier?
Before you drink an extra cup of coffee tonight or reset your alarm, let’s look at the research. Dr. Shawn Youngstedt of Arizona State University Phoenix performed a study to determine if a link existed between sleeping longer and mortality.
His findings associate the lowest mortality and morbidity with seven hours of sleep. In an article published by The Wall Street Journal, Youngstedt stated, “eight hours or more has consistently been shown to be hazardous."
Sounds weird, doesn’t it?
There’s more: several other studies have shown lower mortality rates associated with individuals sleeping between six and a half to seven and a half hours a night when compared to those who slept for shorter or longer time periods.
These results sound pretty convincing, right?
Well, it is important to note that many sleep experts warn that these studies identify correlation, not causation. While the study showed participants who had lower mortality slept for seven hours, it does not show that the participants had lower mortality because they slept for seven hours.
What constitutes as too much sleep?
It is true that oversleeping is linked to serious health issues, but is too much sleep 8 hours and .000001 seconds?!
Not quite. The National Sleep Foundation defines oversleeping as regularly getting 11 or more hours of sleep per night.
If you’re someone who loves sleep and naps (like us), you are probably thinking, “What is causing them to sleep that long, and how do I get some of it?”
But, you may want to reconsider that question. Healthy people rarely get this much sleep. In fact, less than 2% of the population actually needs more than 10 hours. This makes sense when you look at the negative effects of too much sleep. Your body wouldn’t keep you asleep long enough to risk harmful side effects if there was not a reason.
Cue the “reason.”
Sleeping too much can be a symptom of medical conditions like hypothyroidism or depression. It can also be a result of poor-quality sleep caused by a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. If you are getting more than 11 hours of sleep regularly, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor to determine underlying causes.
Now, back to our original question: Do I need less sleep?
Answer: Not if you usually sleep less than 11 hours. Just because too much sleep can cause issues, does not mean you need to sleep less. When you are healthy, your body will wake you up when you have had enough sleep. That period is usually between seven to nine hours for adults.
So, plug in your ChiliPad, hit the hay seven to nine hours before you need to wake up and don’t sweat the rest.