Shrewd Living

Last Updated: 02/25/2014 11:40 PST

This 1 Habit in Bed Could Cause Heart Disease and Diabetes

After a long day of work, getting a good night’s rest is probably the only thing on your agenda–but now a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says getting too much sleep could actually put you at risk for serious diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

“Some of the relationships between unhealthy sleep durations and chronic diseases were partially explained by frequent mental distress and obesity,” says Janet B. Croft, Ph.D., a senior chronic disease epidemiologist for the CDC’s Division of Population Health, who co-authored the study. “This suggests that physicians should consider monitoring mental health and body weight in addition to sleep health for patients with chronic diseases.”

In the study, researchers studied the health effects correlated with a person’s sleeping habits–ranging from those who only got a few hours of sleep to over 10 hours of sleep. In both cases, those who slept irregularly faced a higher risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and “frequent mental distress.”

In addition, researchers say that sleeping longer isn’t necessarily better for your health–in fact, it could be detrimental.

“Sleeping longer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleeping well,” says Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). “It is important to understand that both the quality and quantity of sleep impact your health. A healthy, balanced lifestyle is not limited to diet and fitness; when and how you sleep is just as important as what you eat or how you exercise.”

As for their recommendations, researchers say this only heightens the need for people with irregular sleeping patterns to seek help, regardless of how serious they perceive it to be. The same holds true for people already dealing with a serious chronic illness.

“It’s critical that adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night to receive the health benefits of sleep, but this is especially true for those battling a chronic condition,” says Badr. “If you are diagnosed with a sleep illness, treating it could significantly improve disease symptoms and your quality of life.”

How to Get Better Sleep

For most people, it’s easier said than done–getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day to improve your health. And when you’re used to your less-than-healthy sleep schedule, it’s hard to fix it too: Irregular sleep patterns are often the hardest health conditions to treat. So how do you ensure you get enough sleep–but not too much?

“You should go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on the weekends,” says Dr. Joseph Mercola, a naturopath and founder of “This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.”

In addition, Mercola also recommends sleeping in complete darkness, as any sort of light–even the light from an alarm clock–can interrupt your natural sleep cycle, making it harder to get quality sleep. Cutting out fluids, especially caffeine, may also help make it easier to develop a regular and more healthy sleep cycle.


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