Primary Care Physician
Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC Keck School of…
Lack of Sleep or Too Much Sleep Puts You at Risk?
Posted in Acne by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Apr 29, 2008

Is too much or too little sleep a risk factor for death? Many patients asked me about this study after they heard it on the news. Well it looks like BOTH can be. At a conference of the American Heart Association this month Dr Cappuccio presented details of a provocative study just published in the Journal Sleep April 3, 2008. ( What this study showed was that a CHANGE in sleep duration during midlife was a risk factor for death; both for too much and too little sleep.

Here are the details: Over 10,000 British civil servants aged 35-55 were followed for about 20 years to answer the question of whether lack of sleep carries a price in terms of mortality.

FINDINGS: Death from cardiovascular disease was 2.4 fold higher in those who slept an average of 6-8 hours a night at baseline BUT cut their sleep to 5 hours a night over the next 5 years as compared to those who stayed with 6-8 hours. Short sleep duration is known to be associated with high blood pressure, weight gain and diabetes all of which increase risk of death from heart disease so there isn't much mystery here. The surprising finding, however, was that the study subjects who increased their sleep duration from 7-8 hours at baseline to 9 or more had a 2.1 fold increase in NONCARDIOVASCULAR mortality (death from causes other than heart disease). We don't really know why this is but it has been suggested that there may be possible links between too much sleep and depression and cancer-related fatigue.

What does this mean for you? If you are someone who has gone through a lifestyle change (had a child, changed to a more stressful job) and went from a pattern of 6-8 hours of sleep a night to 5 hours you need to be aware you might be putting yourself at risk. Try to get back to baseline. For those who sleep more than 9 hours a night tune in to why this might be the case for you. Is it mood related? You may want to touch base with your healthcare provider to report your increased requirement for sleep.

Dr O.


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TOTAL COMMENTS: 11 - View All Comments »

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Displaying comments 11-1 of 11
What if you never slept?
I spent the first 48 years of my life sleeping between 0 and 5 hours a night.
It is only since I have been taking seroquel (for about 6 months now) that I sleep about 8 hours a night.
Is it a good thing that I am sleeping?
By shen  Jun 03, 2008
Will you post this same topic here...

By petitep  May 13, 2008
The long term Nurses' Health Study on sleep and mortality
By Ziff  May 10, 2008
Ali5air: If you have a medical condition that requires you to get some good long restorative sleeps (like the 12 hours you describe) I think thats fine
Dr O.
By DrOrrange  May 09, 2008
This is very scary for I have Sleep apnea, and have been struggling to sleep for a very long time, Now I find out after sleep test, I have never really been sleep at all, I stop breathing 32 times an hour, and Sats, drop down in low 80's. Starting to use C-pap, but I realize now it is not going to be a quick response, I know my sleep plays a role in my Fibromyalgia, Chronic pain, and Depression problems, Thanks for sharing this info doc, God bless, love.....S
By sharkdlzl  May 09, 2008
hmmm this does not bode so well for me as I seem to fluctuate between getting too much sleep and insomnia... I knew there were some serious concerns and consequences to this but did not realize exactly how much so!
By IrishStorm  May 09, 2008
CFS and ? Too Much Sleep ?
I read yoy article on Lack of Sleep or Too Much Sleep Puts You at Risk?
As I have a mosquito viral induced rapid onset CFS my question is I have to have @12 hours sleep in 24 otherwise I will "body crash" sometimes severly. Is there any stats or can you comment?
At least I'm not stuck in bed for months like I used to be three years ago.

By Ali5tair  May 09, 2008
I have always needed 8-9 hours of sleep as a baseline. When I jumped to the need for 12 hours of sleep or more per night, I knew something was wrong. Sure enough after numerous tests, I had mono and they also found that I had mitral valve regurge.
By GraceAnn  May 08, 2008
Absolutely fascinating. At one point, I had orthostatic blood pressure, doctor put me on medication and my systolic dropped to the 90s, couldn't do anything. Finally, some freak at the health food store told me that not getting enough sleep raised blood pressure and voila! Went off the meds, blood pressure still fluctuates a bit, but not as much, now that I'm serious about getting enough sleep.

Another thought: My mom always got about 4 hours of sleep a night, and wound up with Parkinsons. My aunt wondered if it was because she never slept enough, which we found clueless and vaguely insulting... but now, we are not so sure. Mom and I wonder (on the days when she can still talk) whether maybe this could have been a factor, or caused the Parkinsons to happen sooner.

I now work longer hours than I did three years ago... but I don't have to get to work until 10:30, and I haven't used an alarm clock in two years. I do feel healthier, blood pressure is lower, post phlebetic syndome from DVT is better.
By Catalyzt  May 08, 2008
This is very interesting. Thanks Dr. O!
By DaveJolley  May 07, 2008
hmmm, so i guess since I need about 47 hours of sleep a night, and always have, I should be OK.
By Lee  May 07, 2008
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