The recommended amount of sleep for adults is six to eight hours a night.
Looking at data from 21 countries, across seven regions, the research team found that people sleeping more than the recommended upper limit of eight hours increased their risk of risk of major cardiovascular events, like stroke or heart failure, as well as death by up to 41%.But a possible reason for this could be that people have underlying conditions causing them to sleep longer, which in turn could raise the risk of cardiovascular disease or mortality, explain the authors of the study.
The team, led by Chuangshi Wang, a Ph.D. student at McMaster and Peking Union Medical Collegein China, also identified a rising risk among daytime nappers.
"Daytime napping was associated with increased risks of major cardiovascular events and deaths in those with [more than] six hours of nighttime sleep but not in those sleeping [less than] 6 hours a night," Wang said.In those who underslept, "a daytime nap seemed to compensate for the lack of sleep at night and to mitigate the risks," Wang explained.Previous studies into this topic were mainly carried out in North America, Europe and Japan.
The new study brings a global picture.But the findings are observational, meaning the cause of this association remains unknown."Even though the findings were very interesting they don't prove cause and effect," said Julie Ward, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, who was not involved in the study.
Having less sleep -- under six hours -- was also shown to increase these risks by 9%, compared with people who slept for the recommended six to eight hours, but this finding was not considered to be statistically significant by the team.
In 2014, 35.2% of American adults reported not getting enough sleep with less than seven hours per night, according to the CDC.
Signs in your sleep
The study asked 116,632 adults between the age of 35 and 70 from 21 countries about their sleepinghabits. Participants were then followed up over an average of 7.8 years.The team found that for every 1,000 people sleeping the recommended six to eight hours per night, 7.8 developed cardiovascular disease or died each year.
This rose to 9.4 in people who slept six or fewer hours a night.Francesco Cappuccio, professor of cardiovascular medicine and epidemiology at Warwick University, who was not involved in this study, has done several studies into sleep and its effect on our health.
He says that a lack of sleep is "definitely associated with an increased risk of death.""If you sleep less for a long time you are more prone to develop chronic disease," Cappuccio said, adding that short sleep duration has been shown to increase high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.However, the findings for those who underslept were not found to be statistically significant, and the greatest risk was instead seen among those who overslept.
For those sleeping eight to nine hours, 8.4 per 1,000 peopledeveloped cardiovascular disease or died each year. This rose even further in those sleeping nine to 10 hours (10.4 per 1,000) and again among those sleeping more than 10 hours (14.8 per 1,000).This equates to an increase in risk of a 5%, 17% and 41%, respectively, compared with people who slept the recommended amount of hours.But Wang pointed out that too much sleep could be a marker for other causes of cardiovascular diseases and death.