Too much of a good thing? We already know—often from experience—that too little sleep can be bad for for our health, but can too much sleep have the same effect? It seems so, according to new research.
Published in the journal Sleep Medicine, the research looked at the sleep habits of almost 55,000 people over 45. About 31 percent were “short sleepers,” getting six or fewer hours of sleep per night. Almost 65 percent were “optimal sleepers,” getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night. The remaining four percent were “long sleepers,” getting more than ten hours of sleep per night.
Both short sleep duration and long sleep duration were significantly associated with obesity, stroke, diabetes, and poor mental health.
So how do you become an optimal sleeper? Start by aiming for quality of sleep, not quantity, with these tips:
1. Turn off your gadgets one to two hours before bed. The bright lights late in the evening can confuse your brain into thinking it’s still day, leading to less deep and restorative sleep.
2. Cut down on alcohol and caffeine. A glass of wine can help you doze off, but it can also lead to a restless night with frequent wake-ups. Meanwhile, caffeine shortens the phases of sleep during which REM sleep and dreaming occur.
3. Ease into the morning. Resist the urge to snooze past your optimal number of hours with an alarm that gradually wakes you with light, or a phone app that wakes you up when you’re in your lightest sleep cycle.
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