The story of Goldilocks and the three bears comes to mind when I read about a study on the perfect amount of sleep we should aim for each night. Too little? Nope. Not good. Too much? Not much better! And, there is more. The "just right" amount of sleep can chase away heart disease and a variety of other diseases, too. So, where do you fall in this spectrum of blissful slumber? How many hours do you rack up each night? Come take a look to see where you fall.
I wrote about creating a bedtime routine here to help you sleep as well as creating a restful spot to do that in as well. Okay. I even wrote about avoiding jet lag here. Yes, perhaps I am a bit obsessed with getting sleep! But, I am well aware that sleep is an important part of living the healthy life that we talk so much about here at The Health-Minded. Sleep is something I struggle with at times, so, the study intrigued me and I had to share.
Sleep Study Facts: Getting It "Just Right"
I always thought the more sleep the better. But, I thought wrong apparently. Here's the scoop on that study I was talking about:
1. Too little . . . AND . . . too much sleep can lead to disease.
The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links too little sleep of six hours or less AS WELL AS too much sleep of 10 or more hours with chronic diseases. Those diseases include heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and obesity in adults age 45 and older.
Surprisingly enough, the associations with coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes were even more pronounced with more sleep.
2. And, the sweet spot is . . .
It looks like Goldilocks (and our bodies) would be happy if sleep each night hovered around seven to nine hours to receive the health benefits of sleep.
3. Don't ignore the signals.
Sleep illnesses like sleep apnea, snoring or insomnia should be addressed by your doctor and even a specialist or sleep physician. It could greatly improve your quality of life and keep disease away.
Here is how to find such a specialist.
And, just to be clear, below are specific definitions of those disorders:
Sleep apnea: one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep
Insomnia: inadequate or poor-quality sleep due to difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep, waking up too early in the morning, or unrefreshing sleep; may cause problems during the day, such as tiredness, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.
Snoring: noisy breathing during sleep. It may occur nightly or intermittently. It can cause disruptions to your own sleep and your bed-partner's sleep. It can lead to fragmented and un-refreshing sleep and linked to daytime dysfunction and heart disease. About one-half of people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea.
4. Look at the numbers.
Here are the study stats if you are interested: It consisted of more than 54,000 participants age 45 or older in 14 states. Nearly one third of participants were identified like me, short sleepers, meaning sleeping six hours or less on average. More than 64 percent were classified as optimal sleepers (lucky!), and only 4 percent of participants were long sleepers.
Keep the Beat Going
It is American Heart Health Month, which I was alerted to recently. Campaigns like this can act as a gentle nudge to pay extra attention to our one and only beating heart!
Along with hitting that sweet spot in the sleep area (7 - 9 hours each night), those of us with genetic predispositions to heart issues (and everyone else too!) may benefit from more heart-healthy actions like this:
- consuming lots of fruits and vegetables to obtain a variety of nutrients
- exercising regularly
- quit smoking or never start at all (Watch that second-hand smoke exposure, too!)
Here are more great tips in this jam-packed graphic that the American Recall Center sent me last week:
For Even More On The Topic . . .
- Making better choices at the grocery store is crucial to eating healthy. Here's specific information on all those confusing food labels to make that shopping a whole lot easier.
- Those omega 3 fats are crucial to keeping inflammation down and maintaining a healthy heart. Find out here how to get those magical fats in your diet easily.