Too much sleep can kill you

A new study released by the Sax Institute has found that sleeping more than nine hours a night and not getting enough exercise during the day could be leading you to an early grave.

The results of the study 45 and up show that a person who sleeps too much (more than nine hours per night), then sits too much (more than seven hours a day) and isn’t physically active (less than 150 minutes per week) is more than four times more likely to die compared with someone with healthier lifestyle habits.

 “Evidence has increased in recent years to show that too much sitting is bad for you and there is growing understanding about the impact of sleep on our health but this is the first study to look at how those things might act together,” said the study’s lead author Dr Melody Ding. “When you add a lack of exercise into the mix, you get a type of ‘triple whammy’ effect. Our study shows that we should really be taking these behaviours together as seriously as we do other risk factors such as levels of drinking and unhealthy eating patterns.”

Researchers at the University of Sydney analysed the behaviour of more than 230,000 participants in the 45 and Up Study to find out the state of health of our ageing population. 

Under the microscope were unhealthy lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, high alcohol intake, poor diet and being physically inactive, as well as excess time sitting down and sleeping habits.

The aim of the study was to examine different combinations of these risk factors to see which would increase the likelihood of premature death.

Apart from the hazardous combination of sleep/sitting/lack of exercise, researchers also found another problematic triple threat: smoking, high alcohol intake and lack of sleep (less than 7 hours a night) is also linked to a more than four-times greater risk of early death.

“The take-home message from this research – for doctors, health planners and researchers – is that if we want to design public health programs that will reduce the massive burden and cost of lifestyle-related disease we should focus on how these risk factors work together rather than in isolation,” said study co-author Professor Adrian Bauman. “Better understanding what combination of risk behaviours poses the biggest threat will guide us on where to best target scarce resources to address this major – and growing – international problem.”

Read the Traditional and Emerging Lifestyle Risk Behaviours and All-Cause Mortality in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: Evidence from a Large Population-Based Australian Cohort study

Read the 45 and up study

Are you surprised by the results of this study? How many hours do you sleep each night? Do you sleep too much? Do you get enough regular exercise?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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