Sleeping longer – Is It Good For You?

You’ve heard that it's best to get around 8 hours of sleep. But does sleeping longer work if you have a full time job, go to university, or raise a family. For many of us, 8 hours of sleep is a luxury reserved for those holiday weekends when we can actually sleep in.

Most people believe reducing sleep to a minimum is efficient and harmless.

But is sleeping less actually good for you?

How Important is sleeping longer?

There is a lot evidence showing detrimental effects on the body with reduced sleep, and late bedtime hours.

But on the other hand, there is so much to do in life. And, sometimes the only way to get it all done is to stay up late.

Here are some interesting facts that may just help you choose to go to bed earlier.

What! Lack of sleep is responsible for all this

Reduced hormones that control appetite

Everyone I meet is in some way trying to lose a few pounds. In industrialized countries, sleep reduction is very common, we try to squeeze as much as we can into the day. But it's becoming recognized as a contributing factor to obesity and diabetes.

Sleep plays a role in the regulation of glucose and hormones related to appetite. Without proper sleep the body will experience more blood sugar issues, and appetite will be greater. Sleeping less causes us to eat more. For good metabolic health, good sleep is imperative.

Slow wave sleep (SWS) is the most restorative sleep stage. It is associated with decreased heart rate, blood pressure, sympathetic nervous activity, and glucose used by the brain. Plus during SWS sleep, the anabolic growth hormone that builds muscle is released, while the stress hormone cortisol is inhibited. 

The link between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes is possibly related to the effect sleep loss has on hormones. If the hormones are not present to control appetite, then hunger will increase. This can happen when people are sleep restricted.

Cholesterol in women increases

Sleep restriction increased total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in women. Short sleep duration has been found to be associated with higher total cholesterol and lower HDL (the good one). Sleep deprivation could increase cholesterol by increasing appetite and consumption of saturated fats, decreasing motivation for physical activity, and increasing stress.

Testosterone in men drops 10%-15%

In men testosterone is a sex hormone that plays important roles in the body. It's thought to regulate sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm. As men age, testosterone levels decrease by 1% to 2% per year.

But men who went under 1 week of sleep restriction of 5 hours per night had a decrease of 10% to 15% of testosterone. Symptoms and signs of testosterone deficiency include low energy, reduced libido, poor concentration, and increased sleepiness, all of which may be produced by sleep deprivation.

Thumbs down

Thumbs down

Adolescents are affected too

They tested a group of adolescents with the following sleep-wake patterns: Early-bed/Early-rise; Early-bed/Late-rise; Late-bed/Early-rise; Late-bed/Late-rise. Here's what happened:
- Adolescents in the Late-bed/Late-rise category experienced 48 minutes per day more screen time (electronic devices)
- 27 minutes less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity

They were also:
- 1.47 times more likely to be overweight or obese
- 1.77 times more likely to have low moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
- 2.92 times more likely to have high screen time.

Students sleeping late, didn't feel refreshed

Why do people delay their bedtime?

Homework and TV shows were the more frequent reasons of late bedtimes among the late-sleepers.

Let’s not forget those that high stress jobs, careers, or lives so many have. This group of people often takes their stress into the evening, and bed. This makes them go to bed later without the ability to sleep longer.

Can You Temporarily Make Up For Lost Sleep?

Naps help temporarily

How about sleeping less and catching up. A group of people were sleep restricted to 5 hours a night. They also were allowed a daily nap to catch up. It was found that a 10-minute nap produced immediate improvements in outcomes (including sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance). Some of the benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes.

Better sleep quality happens when you are sleep deprived

This one makes sense. When you don't sleep you are more tired, and that will help you sleep better. This restricted sleep study tested a group of children for 6 days. They had 3 days of regular sleep, and then 3 days of extended or restricted sleep by 1 hour. The one benefit they saw was improved sleep quality, although they slept less.

How Long Should Sleep Occur?

Get out of bed within 8 hours or else!

This study showed that sleeping  greater than 8 hours per night is associated with increased mortality. The most recent American Cancer Society data of 1.1 million respondents showed that sleeping longer than 7.5 hours was associated with approximately 5% of the total mortality of the sample.

Even though it hasn’t been proven yet, there is evidence that mild sleep restriction would decrease mortality in long sleepers. Also, chronic sleep restriction is perhaps the most effective treatment for primary insomnia.

Time to get up

Time to get up

Long Term Effects

Immune and Cardiovascular challenges can occur with less than 6 hours of sleep a day.

In addition to its effects on cognitive function, sleep loss affects the immune and inflammatory systems. One night of recovery sleep does not allow full recovery of these systems. The immune and inflammatory responses to chronic sleep restriction suggest that chronic exposure to reduced sleep of less than 6 hours a day, and insufficient time for recovery sleep could have gradual deleterious effects, over years, on cardiovascular health.

In summary

A lack of sleep is not a healthy addition to any lifestyle, rather quite the opposite. If you have a choice - choose sleeping longer.

Here is a quick summary of the points of not getting adequate rest:

  • reduces hormone production responsible for appetite suppression
  • may be one of the causes for obesity and type 2 diabetes
  • causes an increase of cholesterol in women
  • decrease of testosterone in men
  • increases electronic device use, increase weight, and reduces physical activity in adolescents
  • sleeping less than 6 hours a day can lave long term negative effects on cardiovascular health

A good night of sleep is imperative for good health. It must become a new priority so as to perform the best throughout the day. Start with a new bed-time routine and ease into a better nights rest. 


%d bloggers like this: