Sleeping for more than nine hours a night, or fewer than seven, are risk factors to human health up there with excessive drinking or smoking, according to a new study.
Another deadly culprit added to the list is sitting in excess of seven hours.
Researchers used data collected over six years from 231,048 middle-aged and older Australian adults.
Physical inactivity, smoking, drinking, and poor diet have long been considered behavioural lifestyle risks that can lead to adverse health outcomes. Researchers looked at the two new factors in determining mortality rates.
“As evidence continues to accumulate on emerging lifestyle risk factors, such as prolonged sitting and unhealthy sleep patterns, incorporating these new risk factors will provide clinically relevant information on combinations of lifestyle risk factors,” the study states.
Researchers observed that bad behaviours tend to to cluster, such as heavy drinking linked with smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle combined with oversleeping.
“The joint risk could be much higher than the sum of the individual risks.”
One silver lining is that when only one risk factor is there – such as the extended sitting factor but not general inactivity – researchers found there tended to be a smaller effect on mortality.
WATCH: Is sitting the new smoking?
When it comes to sleep, lacking pillow time was actually found to be less harmful than oversleeping. Researchers noted that isn’t exactly understood, though this current work suggests too much sleep can often coincide with inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle.
“Most studies suggest that long sleep duration tends to be associated with sleep fragmentation, fatigue, depression, and underlying disease and poor health.”
Researchers said the study results “reaffirms the importance of healthy lifestyles” while the “combinations of risk factors suggest new strategic targeting for chronic disease prevention.”
The findings have been published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
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