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Early Death Caused By Sleeping 8 Hours 2002-02-14

Posted by clype in Articles of Interest, Health, Science, Statistics.

Eight hours’ sleep/night has long been touted as the ideal length of time to spend under the duvet but new research suggests it could shorten your life.

  • A study that included more than a million participants found people who sleep eight hours or more died younger.

Those who only managed four or less hours in the land of nod were similarly affected but six or seven hours a night was found to be conducive to a longer life.

The research, carried out by scientists at ‘The University of California’, showed a clear association between long duration sleep and high mortality rates.

However, the research team cannot explain why this happens.

The report’s author Mr.Daniel Kripke, a professor of psychiatry, said:

‘We don’t know if long sleep periods lead to death.

‘Additional studies are needed to determine if setting your alarm clock earlier will actually improve your health.

‘Individuals who now average six-and-a-half hours of sleep a night can be reassured this is a safe amount of sleep.

‘From a health standpoint there is no reason to sleep longer.’

The findings were being discussed at the annual meeting of ‘The American Association for the Advancement of Science’ in Boston, USA.

Margaret Thatcher famously managed to function on just four hours’ sleep a night.

That may be too little, but people who managed as little as five hours a night lived longer than those who got more than eight hours.

The best survival rates were among those who slept seven hours a night, according a report published in ‘The Archives of General Psychiatry’.

Mr.Jim Horne a professor at ‘Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre’ said people who advocate the benefits of lots of sleep are misguided. He said:

‘A lot of people can be re-assured that six or seven hours sleep is okay.

‘The acid test for enough sleep is whether you are sleepy or alert throughout the day.

‘If you are alert, then your sleep is probably adequate.

‘However, nine hour sleepers shouldn’t think they’re going to die early.’

The US American study showed that a group sleeping eight hours were 12 per cent more likely to die within the six year period covered by the study than those sleeping seven hours.

Between 1982 and 1988, a total of 5.1 per cent of the women taking part and 9.4 per cent of the men had died.

The study, involving 1.1 million people was the first large-scale population study of sleep to take into account variables such as age, diet, exercise, previous health problems and risk factors such as smoking.

The study also found that occasional bouts of insomnia were not linked to higher death rates.

However, it concluded that people who take sleeping pills are more likely to die earlier.





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