Over 9 Hours Of Sleep A Night May Increase Risk of Early Mortality

First Posted: Dec 13, 2015 08:49 PM EST

Sleeping in could increase your risk of early mortality, according to a recent study.

Researchers at The University of Sydney found that those who sleep more than nine hours a night or who sit for more than seven hours a day are more likely to die early. The same is also true for those who exercise less than 150 minutes a week .

"When you add a lack of exercise into the mix, you get a type of 'triple whammy' effect," said Dr. Melody Ding, study author and senior research fellow at the University of Sydney, via The Daily Mail. "Our study shows that we should really be taking these behaviors together as seriously as we do risk factors such as levels of drinking and unhealthy eating patterns."

During the study, researchers examined the lifestyles of 231,0481 Australians 45 and older. The participants were all asked to answer a lifestyle survey as used for baseline data. Then, researchers scored lifestyle behaviors already known to increase disease risk, including including smoking, excess drinking, poor diet and being physically inactive.

Findings revealed that unhealthy sleeping habits (such as sleeping less than seven hours a day or more than nine hours a day), prolonged sitting and little to no exercise increased risk of early death. More specifically, less than seven hours of sleep a night when combined with smoking and alcohol intake increased the risk of early death four-fold. Other deadly combinations included too little exercise plus too much sleep; too little exercise plus too much sitting and smoking plus increased alcohol consumption.

"The take-home message from this research - for doctors, health planners and researchers - is that if we want to design public health programs that will reduce the massive burden and cost of lifestyle-related disease we should focus on how these risk factors work together rather than in isolation," concluded study co-author Professor Adrian Bauman, in a news release. "These non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer) now kill more than 38 million people around the world - and cause more deaths than infectious disease. Better understanding what combination of risk behaviours poses the biggest threat will guide us on where to best target scarce resources to address this major - and growing - international problem."

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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