What is worse: oversleeping or undersleeping?
Many epidemiological studies show a strong connection between sleep duration and health. Oversleepers and undersleepers are both exposed to greater risks of death and diseases than normal length sleepers.
It should be mentioned that sleep needs vary across ages. Besides age, in order to establish how much sleep you need, it would be necessary to take into account your work schedule and stress and examine other factors that could be affecting the quantity (and the quality) of your sleep. The general opinion is that normal sleep length is 7 – 9 hours for adults.
When comparing oversleeping and undersleeping, to most people oversleeping would sound like a better option. But, long sleep is often demonstrated as a stronger predictor of mortality than short sleep.
There were experiments that had shown a casual connection between undersleeping and health, but none for oversleeping (Hossin, 2016). Long sleep does not cause illness, but it is an indicator of poor sleep quality and can actually be a consequence of an illness. The effect of short sleep on health is known – it can alter glucose metabolism and appetite regulation, increase heart rate and blood pressure.
If a choice had to be made, undersleeping would probably have a slight advantage, simply because of the statistics, when we take into account mortality and some other health outcomes. No particular reason for this correlation has been determined, but the researchers found that depression and low socioeconomic status are also associated with oversleeping, which could be related to the increase in mortality.
However, the topic is still poorly understood and there would have to be a comprehensive investigation that would include all the internal and external factors that affect sleep length.
Hossin M. Z. (2016). From habitual sleep hours to morbidity and mortality: existing evidence, potential mechanisms, and future agenda. Sleep Health, In Press, Corrected proof
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