We know that too little sleep has been linked with a host of potential health problems. Now, it seems, too much sleep can be problematic as well.

In a 2015 study, researchers from the University of Sydney wanted to better understand links between certain behaviors and early death. They looked at the records of 231,048 individuals aged 45 and older and drew associations between mortality rates and variables like sleeping, sitting and physical activity habits.

The authors determined that regularly sleeping more than 9 hours per night was associated with higher mortality rates. Add to that a failure to meet the weekly recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise and the risk grew. Achieving less than 7 hours of nightly shuteye was also found to be a health hazard. A combination of too much sleep, too much sitting and inadequate exercise further worsened the risk. The most deadly combination, according to researchers, was smoking, consuming more than 14 alcoholic drinks per week and sleeping less than 7 hours per night.

Cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are considered known and well-discussed health risk factors, the authors stated. They believe it is now time for healthcare providers to address sleeping and sitting habits as well.

“This analysis investigated four established and two novel risk factors, namely, prolonged sitting and unhealthy sleep duration, which may be added to behavioral indices or risk combinations to quantify health risk,” they explained. “The prevalent combinations of risk factors suggest new strategic targeting for chronic disease prevention.”

This study was published in PLOS ONE (2015; doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001917).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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