We all know the less than pleasant and, in extreme cases, even catastrophic effects too little sleep can have on us. After all, most of us have experienced a good deal of them first hand – from constant yawning and an irritable mood, to headaches, sugar cravings and even worse; at the extreme end of the sleep deprivation scale, those suffering from too little shut eye have nodded off at the wheel, collapsed and as well increased their risk of developing potentially fatal conditions, including heart disease.
Fewer of us though are aware that too much sleep, as with too much of most good things, can come at an equally high price. In fact, consistently sleeping for longer than the recommended seven to eight hours a night, whilst it might sound truly dreamy, can cause a catalogue of health related nightmares, according to a study recently carried out by the Journal of Biological Psychiatry.
The results of the study, as reported on by the Daily Mail Newspaper website, suggest that oversleeping is not only possible but is very likely to result in causing a heightened level of inflammation within the body. Whilst this might not initially ring too many alarm bells for most, it is important to understand that heightened levels of inflammation due to the overactive production of C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are used in medical science as an indicator of a person’s overall health; high levels of either or both of these substances suggest a poor level of overall health as they indicate a person is at risk of or already potentially suffering from a number of serious, life changing and even ultimately fatal ailments, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly then, many of the diseases, conditions and illnesses now being linked to over sleeping are also already linked to under sleeping, suggesting that those who fall either side of their recommended seven to eight hours of nightly sleep could potentially be at risk.
Equally intrigued by these finding and the complex and varying results gleaned by the research produced by the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, an academic research team at UCLA set out to to review the findings. The review itself involved Michael Irwin, Richard Olmstead and Judith Carroll, who belong to the Cousins Centre for Psychoneuroimmunology and who together closely examining over seventy separate articles and reviewing the results collected from a staggering 50,000 participants who had all partaken in related clinical trials.
The most note worthy results reaped from having undertaken the research was that the normal amount of sleep experienced by population, is indeed (as recommended by health experts) between seven and eight hours per night. Less reassuringly, meanwhile, were some of the results uncovered about those who exceed this amount on a regular basis though; who did indeed, it was discovered, put themselves (along with those who scrimp on sleep or struggle to get enough of it) at an elevated risk of suffering from elevated levels of proteins and hormones which are known to cause inflammation and increase the risk of heart problems, diabetes and hypertension.
Fortunately, this is one potentially ticking time bomb that is easily diffused; as the team at UCLA were quick to point out; one needs simply to stick to the recommended amount of sleep per night as often and consistently as possible and try to minimise the amount of time they spend being sedentary, along with enjoying a healthy diet.