From Dr. Mercola:
Sleep is such an important part of your overall health that no amount of healthful food and exercise can counteract the ill effects of poor sleeping habits.
Researchers have linked poor sleep to a number of ailments, from short-term memory loss and behavioral problems, to weight gain, diabetes, and even increased risk of cancer, just to mention a few.
Yet while most of the literature emphasizes the ramifications of insufficient sleep, research shows too much sleep isn’t good either.1 Studies have linked excessive sleep to health risks ranging from depression to an increased risk for stroke, just to name a few.
There is, it appears, a “Goldilocks zone” when it comes to sleep.
After reviewing more than 300 studies to ascertain how many hours of sleep most people need to maintain good health, the panel of experts concluded that most adults need seven to nine hours, or right around eight hours, of sleep each night.
Studies suggest consistently sleeping less than eight hours, and more than nine — with the exception of children and teens — is associated with health risks. (To see the sleep recommendations for all age categories, please see my previous article, How Much Sleep Is “Enough”?)
Sleeping More Than Eight Hours May Increase Stroke Risk in Seniors
According to one of the most recent analyses,2 seniors who regularly slept more than eight hours per night had a 46 percent increased risk of stroke compared to those who slept between six and eight hours per night.
Interestingly, those whose sleep pattern changed over the nearly decade-long study, going from sleeping less than six hours to sleeping for more than eight hours per night, had about four times higher risk of stroke compared to those whose sleep remained consistently average throughout.
The cause for these findings, however, is still unclear. As reported by CBS News:3
“[T]he researchers don’t know if the long sleep is a cause, consequence, or early warning sign of declining brain health. After reviewing previous research on the possible link between sleep and stroke risk, they said they only found an association that they can’t explain.”
The answer is not to cut sleep, as getting inadequate sleep can have serious health consequences. However, if you notice that you need more sleep than normal, you’d be wise to evaluate your lifestyle, and make some healthy changes there.
Most researchers agree that excessive sleep tends to indicate an underlying health condition.
Dr. Alberto Ramos, who wrote an accompanying editorial to this study suggests long sleepers (i.e. those who sleep more than nine hours a night) would be wise to “monitor their lifestyle, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly,” adding that:
“Adults over the age of 60 or 65 who notice they are sleeping more should make sure their cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol are under control.”
Seven Health Risks Associated with Sleeping Too Much
Besides suggesting that you may be at an increased