Too much or too little sleep can damage your health, study finds

Sabrina Barr
Getty Images/iStockphoto

When a person is suffering from sleep deprivation, indulging in a lengthy lie in at the weekend may seem like a logical course of action to catch up on some zzzs.

However, doing so could prove extremely detrimental for your health.

A recent study published in the journal BMC Public Health has found that having both too much or too little sleep could lead to a variety of health conditions, such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels.

The team who conducted the research, from the Seoul National University College of Medicine, analysed the data of 133,608 Korean men and women aged between 40 and 69 years old.

The information was originally gathered as part of a HEXA (The Health Examinees) study, which collected the data over the course of nine years from 2004.

The 44,930 men and 88,678 women were placed into four sleep categories: less than six hours sleep, between six and eight hours sleep, between eight and ten hours sleep and more than ten hours sleep.

The results of the study stated that the men who slept for less than six hours a night were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who managed to hit the hay for eight hours.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a number of conditions, including increased blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and additional fat around the waist area.

Furthermore, both the men and women who regularly had less than six hours sleep also had a greater chance of having a larger waist circumference.

While some may assume that the participants who slept for more than 10 hours sleep a night were better off, the research proved the contrary.

Both men and women in that particular category also had a greater likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome, while the women were more likely to have excess fat around the waist.

“This is the largest study examining a dose-response association between sleep duration and metabolic syndrome and its components separately for men and women,” said Claire E. Kim, lead author of the study.

“We observed a potential gender difference between sleep duration and metabolic syndrome, with an association between metabolic syndrome and long sleep in women and metabolic syndrome and short sleep in men.”

The authors of the study have noted that their research is solely observational and therefore cannot draw definite conclusions about cause and effect.