There is no doubt that people need sleep. However, too little sleep will actually mean your body can’t perform optimally. What’s a little less clear is why getting too much sleep can lead to more health problems than sleep deprivation itself.
“Sleep is so important because sleep is the only key to health,” David A. Lewis, M.D., director for science at the Center for Sleep Research at New York University Langone Medical Center, told MedPage Today. “The more sleep you get, the sooner you get to rest and the better everything else is going to be.”
Studies about sleep have shown that getting too little sleep can hurt the body. Lack of sleep is linked to a wide range of medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. One study showed a link between not getting enough sleep and obesity. It also found that people who sleep less than seven hours a night were more likely to develop cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular complications.
“In short, as you get more sleep, your body gets to work more efficiently and your blood pressure and heart rate go down, which in turn lowers your risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke,” Lewis said. “There are a lot of things that sleep does for you.”
How Much Sleep Should You Get?
A good rule of thumb is to get at least eight hours of sleep per night, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That number may seem low, but research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that most adults need an eight-hour night’s sleep.
“It takes a certain amount of sleep to have a good night’s rest, but it can also take some sleep to prevent damage or even disease for people,” said Elizabeth K. Davis, Ph.D., an obesity expert from New York University Langone Medical Center. “For example, it could be that getting too little sleep prevents obesity.”
This rule of thumb also suggests that getting some sleep a day may help to stave off the effects of illness and disease, as well as make you a healthier you. “Not getting enough sleep can slow down your metabolism. That’s bad,” Davis said. That’s why studies have found that getting six hours of good-quality sleep a night may help regulate your glucose levels and may help ward off type 2 diabetes.
Research also suggests that