Too Much Sleep Linked to Heart Problems


A study has found that people who sleep for longer than eight hours a night are at a higher risk of drying or developing heart disease than those who sleep for between six and eight hours.

The findings from research carried out by Chinese researchers were published in the European Heart Journal.

Sleep patterns

The researchers examined the sleep patterns of over 100,000 people aged between 35 and 70, from 21 different countries.

They looked at their self-reported daily total sleep and daytime naps, and any associations between them and deaths and major heart problems (cardiovascular events).

The people were followed up for an average of 7.8 years. There were over 4,000 deaths and over 4,000 major cardiovascular events.

Increased risk

Compared to people who slept for between six and eight hours, those who slept for between eight and nine hours a day had a 5% increase in the risk of dying or developing major heart problems.

Those who slept between nine and 10 hours a day had a 17% increased risk. And those who slept for more than 10 hours a day had a 41% increased risk.

Daytime nap duration was associated with an increase in risk for those who slept for over six hours a night, but not in those who slept for less than six hours a night.

Optimal amount of sleep

The researchers conclude that the optimal amount of sleep that people should have a day is between six and eight hours.

The findings back up the conclusions from a previous study published earlier this year, which found that either having more or less than six to eight hours sleep a night could increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Indicator of heart health

The researchers believe that sleep patterns can be an indicator of heart health, and state that: “Increased total sleep time or taking daytime naps among those with adequate duration of nocturnal sleep might be early indicators of poorer health and help identify those at higher risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease] and mortality. Therefore, including questions about sleep patterns in the clinical history may be of value in identifying higher risk individuals.”

On the findings around daytime napping, the authors state that: “Daytime naps are associated with excessive risks of major cardiovascular events and deaths except in those with less nocturnal sleep, suggesting that this may be a compensatory mechanism when nocturnal sleep is short.”


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