I've written before about the unnecessary pressure many people put themselves under to get that magical eight hours of sleep.
Many of us don't need eight hours of sleep. In fact, one study suggests that the longer we sleep, the higher our risk of death.
A UK researcher analyzed 16 studies and divided participants into three groups:
- Those who reported getting less than six hours of sleep each night,
- Those who reported getting between six and eight hours of sleep each night,
- Those who reported getting more than eight hours of sleep each night.
Although 12% more of those in the shortest sleep duration group (less than six hours) had died upon follow-up compared to those in the six to eight hours of sleep group, this number increased to 30% in the longest sleep duration group (more than eight hours).
Perhaps those who sleep for more than eight hours have an underlying health issue. Others suggest that longer periods of inactivity (such as sleep) can lead to health issues due to increases in inflammation.
In conclusion, we need to stop seeing eight hours of sleep as the holy grail of sleep duration. Those who regularly exceed eight hours of sleep are actually more at risk of death compared to those who get less than six hours of sleep.
If you absolutely need a number to aim for, it's thought that most adults should target seven hours of sleep each night. Remember, though - we are all different.
At the end of the day, this study should simply reassure those who often get less than six hours of sleep each night that the risks to their health are actually less than if they were getting more than eight hours of sleep each night.
Reducing the burden we place on ourselves to sleep, often helps us sleep.
Last updated: March 25, 2015