Too much sleep can lead to restless nights

Don’t hit the snooze alarm too many times: Too many hours in bed can cause as many sleep problems as too few, according to a new study.

“Long” sleepers who slumber more than eight hours a night and “short” sleepers who get fewer than seven hours of shuteye both report more sleep complaints than people who sleep in the “just right” zone of seven to eight hours, say Michael A. Grandner, B.A., and Daniel F. Kripke, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego. Their study appears in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

“Although it is unclear why long and short sleepers should have similar types of sleep complaints, these data challenge the assumption that more than seven or eight hours of sleep is associated with increased health and well-being,” Grandner says.

Scientists know a lot more about problems associated with lack of sleep than they know about too much sleep, although some studies have shown a correlation between too much sleep and an increased risk of death in certain groups of people, according to Grandner and Kripke.

To find out if long sleepers have as many sleep complaints as the sleep-deprived, the researchers used data from nearly 100 adults interviewed in the National Sleep Foundation’s 2001 Sleep in America Poll. The participants were asked how many hours they slept on a typical workday, not including naps, and whether they had any complaints about the quality of their sleep and sleep’s effect on their daily activities.

Long sleepers reported more problems with falling asleep, waking up during the night, awaking too early, feeling “unrefreshed” upon waking up, and feeling sleepy during the day than those who slept seven or eight hours, the researchers found.

Sleep complaints were more common in both long and short sleepers than in those who got seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Women were more apt to be long sleepers than men were.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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Becky Ham CAH

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