We all know about the dangers of sleep deprivation, which has been linked to obesity, memory problems, and even early death. But a new study shows that a surprisingly large proportion of Americans are getting too much sleep, and that carries its own health risks, MyHealthNewsDaily.com reports. In surveys that asked participants to record how they spent their time in a 24-hour period, 37 percent of Americans reported sleeping for more than nine hours—up from 28 percent in 1985.
Meanwhile, the number of people who reported sleeping less than six hours a night declined to 9 percent. “This turns the current concept of an increasingly ‘sleep-deprived society’ on its head,” say the study’s authors, researchers at the University of Sydney. Previous research has linked sleeping for longer than nine hours a night to an increased risk of heart disease, cognitive problems, and premature death, though it’s unclear whether too much sleep is a symptom or a cause of poor health. Lying in bed longer than usual could also be a sign of insomnia, depression, diabetes, and the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease.