Is It Possible To Sleep Too Much?

You can, in fact, have too much of a good thing — even sleep, new research suggests. 

People who sleep more than eight hours per night have a significantly higher risk for stroke than those who snooze six to eight hours, according to a study published online Wednesday in the journal Neurology.

In the study, researchers followed approximately 9,600 older adults (average age: 62) for about 10 years. During that period, subjects who reported clocking more than eight hours of shuteye nightly were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke, compared with individuals with more moderate sleep durations. Even when researchers accounted for factors such as high blood pressure and physical activity that may have skewed the findings, long sleepers still had an elevated stroke risk.

Short sleep (less than six hours) was associated with a small hike in stroke risk, but the data wasn’t statistically significant (meaning the results could be due to chance). 

“It is worth noting excessive sleep as an early sign of increased stroke risk, particularly among older people,” the study authors write. Previous large research studies in the U.S. and China have found similar associations between sleep duration and stroke.

The new research adds to a large body of evidence that shows both sleeping too little and sleeping too much are associated with poorer health and an increased risk for mortality. And sleeping too much seems to be worse than sleeping too little, the statistics show. Long sleepers have about a 20 to 30 percent increased risk for mortality, according to recent meta-analyses. Among short sleepers, that number is about 10 percent.

All of this raises the question: Can too much sleep hurt your health? Or is it just that people in poor health tend to sleep longer?

Dozens of health problems can encourage people to sleep more, which may partly explain the association between long sleep and stroke or mortality. “It’s hard to think of a health condition that doesn’t increase how much you sleep,” says W. Christopher Winter, MD, owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and the medical director of the Martha Jefferson Sleep Medicine Center.

Research shows that depression, cancer treatment, a recent heart attack, and even high cholesterol are all associated with lengthy snooze sessions. (For what it’s worth, short sleep is also linked to numerous health problems, including obesity and diabetes.)

“Generally speaking, when individuals are not healthy, there is a tendency to want to sleep more. It’s the body’s natural response,” Winter tells Yahoo Health. Here’s what typically happens: When you’re ill, you have more inflammatory and immune substances circulating in your system. These body chemicals feed back into brain centers that control sleepiness and wakefulness, Winter explains. “The chemicals are working toward trying to restore health to the individual, but in the meantime they’re feeding back to certain parts of the brain that regulate fatigue.”

Poor sleep quality may also partly explain the connection between long bedtime hours and health problems, Winter says. For example, if you have sleep apnea (a common disorder in which your breathing stops numerous times during the night, making sleep unrefreshing), you might snooze longer to try to make up for interrupted shuteye. (The authors of the recent stroke study write that this may have, in fact, played a role in their findings.)

Might excessive sleep be a cause of poor health as well as a consequence? That’s hard to say. No studies have found any direct evidence, but experts have a few theories. Long sleep duration is linked to inflammation, the stroke study’s authors explain. And inflammation may contribute to cardiovascular problems and, down the line, stroke and an increased risk for early death.

Winter hypothesizes that extended sleep, especially when it’s part of an irregular schedule, might throw off the body’s sleep rhythms. “Sleep is dynamic at night — there are a lot of things going on,” he says. “Many hormones all get set based upon sleep rhythms.” When those rhythms get out of whack, hormones and other body systems aren’t regulated as well, he explains.

Too much sleep can, however, worsen certain health problems, such as depression, Winter adds.

How much sleep should you get?

The National Sleep Foundation released new age-based sleep guidelines in February. The updated recommendations say most adults need between seven and nine hours per night. 

In his practice, Winter uses seven hours of sleep as a touchstone. If someone sleeps eight, nine, or 10 hours, he’ll investigate to see if extra doze time is making up for restless sleep. Sometimes the cause of bad sleep is obvious — a new baby at home or moving to a noisy apartment. Other times, a sleep study might be warranted to check for disorders that can cause poor-quality sleep.

Sleep needs vary from person to person, Winter says, and it may take some experimentation to find your sweet spot. If you function well on 5.5 hours, for example, try going to 6.5 and see if you feel any better or worse.

Any change in sleep habits is “a big red flag,” Winter stresses. “Any time there’s been a change in sleeping where you need more, that’s unusual. Usually as life goes on you need less sleep.” Dozing more than you used to could signal depression, a sleep disorder, or another health problem. So if you have any noticeable changes in sleep habits, he advises mentioning it to your doctor.

“There are people out there who are long sleepers who are normal and healthy, so you shouldn’t panic one way or the other,” Winter says. “It’s pretty difficult to sleep more than you need to sleep."

Wake Up In The Best Mood With These Sleeping Tips

The surprising secret to a slimmer, healthier you? Learning to love—and take advantage of—your mornings. A growing body of research shows that early risers reap a host of rewards, from feeling more positive to weighing less. The reason: Self-control tends to be stronger in the A.M., making it the ideal time to establish habits that can improve your body, mind and even your relationships. Here, your grump-free guide to becoming a morning person.

1. Prep ahead. Set yourself up for a less stressful A.M. by laying out clothes, packing your bag and making lunches the night before. Doing the work in advance will reduce the pressure—and your to-do list—so you’re less crazed in the morning.

2. Rethink bedtime. You’ll feel better the next day if you snooze for the recommended 7 to 8 hours, no matter what time you get up. So an earlier bedtime doesn’t necessarily mean a better one. If you usually hit the sack at midnight and wake up at 7 but want to start rising an hour earlier, don’t force yourself under the sheets at 9:30 P.M. You’ll probably stare at the ceiling until your “regular” bedtime. Instead, start small: Move up bedtime by just 15 minutes each night until you meet your goal.

3. Stop to smell the roses. People who look at flowers first thing in the morning report being more cheerful and energetic, according to a Harvard University study. In fact, simply admiring the blooms made participants feel less anxious and more compassionate throughout the day. Place a fresh bouquet on your nightstand or kitchen table.

4. Choose to tune out. Watching the news as soon as you get up makes for a stressful start. Setting limits, like no morning news and no email for at least 30 minutes, sets the tone for the day. Or, try cranking up your favorite song. Research from Knox College found that listening to upbeat music is a major mood booster.

5. Ban the button. If you hit snooze, you’ll feel much less rested than if you’d just gotten up the first time (going back to sleep can send you into even deeper slumber). So place your alarm across the room.

6. Sip lemon water. You’ve gone hours without drinking by the time you crawl out of bed, so your body needs hydration—stat. A glass of water with lemon is a smart move because it gives you a little jolt and a feeling of fullness, plus the citrus taste can deter you from grabbing a doughnut later.

7. See the light. The Verilux HappyLight ($39.95; Amazon.com) can make it easier to get going when it’s dark. Exposure to this kind of light tells your body to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin and can help you feel more awake in just 15 minutes. (Light therapy has also been shown to ease depression.) Place it at arm’s length and turn it on while you brush your teeth.

8. Get moving! Research shows that people who work out in the morning are more likely to stick with a routine. Just 10 minutes of walking or stretching can get your blood flowing and help you wake up.

WomansDay.com:
By Kelly Mickle

The Scary Thing Anger Does To Your Heart

Losing your cool could come with a risk

It’s a universal truth: Anger sure doesn't feel good. And according to new research, an angry outburst could also come with a pretty serious health effect. 

The study, published in the European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care, shows that heart attack risk is 8.5 times higher in the two hours after a bout of extreme anger, compared with during general, common patterns of everyday angry feelings.

Researchers tracked patients admitted to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Australia, for primary angioplasty (a procedure to open blocked blood vessels after a heart attack) between 2006 and 2012. Of the 687 patients originally suspected to have experienced a heart attack, 313 were confirmed and included in the study analysis.

Through a questionnaire answered by the participants, anger was assessed on an individual basis on a seven-point scale: 1 was considered “calm,”whereas 7 was considered “enraged, out of control, throwing objects, hurting yourself or others.”Using personal judgment, patients indicated where they fell on the scale. Researchers considered level 5 or above an episode of acute anger, meaning “very angry, body tense, maybe fists clenched, ready to burst.”

Of the 313 cases of heart attack assessed in the hospital, seven followed a bout of acute anger that occurred within two hours of the heart attack. An additional person had reached level-5 anger within four hours of the cardiac episode. Level-4 anger was noted in two participants within two hours and three participants within four hours.

Taking each participant’s usual anger frequency into account, the researchers determined that the odds of heart attack symptoms within two hours of a level-5 anger (or greater) episode was roughly eight times higher than the risk associated with those normal, garden-variety anger levels.

This is a significant finding that may lead us to better understand predictors of heart attack, according to study author Thomas Buckley, PhD, a senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital.

“This indicates that the episodes of anger were not just coincidental but associated with triggering the myocardial infarction,” or heart attack, he tells Yahoo Health. “This risk lasts for two hours after anger and there was no association with lower levels of anger and myocardial infarction onset.”

Why Is Anger So Dangerous?

These findings add to previous research showing anger’s negative impact on overall health and well-being. A March 2014 study from the Harvard School of Public Health showed anger increases heart attack and stroke risk. According to the researchers, five bouts of anger a day would end in an extra 158 annual heart attacks per 10,000 people at low risk of heart issues, and 657 extra episodes per 10,000 people at high risk. 

So, what is anger’s role in increased risk of these events? “Anger results in changes to heart rate and blood pressure, as well as additional inflammatory markers and activation of the clotting system, all of which are associated with onset of heart attack,”says Buckley. “Most heart attacks are secondary to a blood clot in the coronary artery, and this usually occurs after rupture of a plaque in the artery. So, these physiological changes associated with anger are likely to contribute to this plaque becoming unstable and rupturing, with blood clots blocking the artery.”

For doctors and patients alike, Buckley says the takeaway is recognizing that emotional distress leaves you vulnerable to heart-related incidents. “While the absolute risk of a heart attack for one given episode of anger is still quite low, the risk still exists,”he says. “This information is also most important for those with existing cardiac risk factors, and individuals should work with their health care provider to reduce modifiable risk factors and take strategies to avoid anger situations when possible.” 

Anger is a modifiable risk factor that leaves you vulnerable not just to heart attack and stroke but to other conditions, as well. For instance, a 2013 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, showed that anger and irritability were associated with more severe depression issues, higher substance abuse incidence, anxiety disorder, and overall lower life satisfaction.

How To Get Your Anger Under Control

The trick is to prevent anger, anxiety, and stress whenever possible, says Buckley. If you’re constantly on edge, stress-reduction therapy and avoiding situations where confrontation is likely may be your best bet.

“Some other strategies are listing things that can trigger your anger, learning to control your thinking, and avoiding the exaggeration of an event,”he says. “Before, during and after something stressful, take time out, use distraction, use relaxation, learn assertiveness skills, and acknowledge the thing that is making you angry.”

Letting your frustrations out constructively — without acting out — may seem easier said than done. But if you do learn the tools, your body will thank you.

Via Jenna Birch of Yahoo.com