Sleeping Late Has a Surprising Negative Impact on Your Life


Your bed might be the death of you. (Photo: Stocksy)

Sorry, but your chair and your bed may be cutting your life short.

Investigators from the University of Sydney examined the lifestyle patterns of 231,048 participants in the 45 and Up Study — Australia’s largest cohort study — in order to determine the most likely risk behaviors that are contributing to premature deaths in middle-aged and older adults. The habits that were highlighted in the questionnaire included smoking, high alcohol intake, poor diet, physical inactivity, prolonged sitting, and unhealthy (short or long) sleep duration.

During the six-year follow-up period, more than 15,600 deaths were registered. And out of the 96 possible risk combinations, the 30 most commonly occurring combinations accounted for more than 90 percent of the participants. The findings, which were published in the journal PLOS Medicine, revealed the following:

  • A person who oversleeps (more than nine hours a night), over-sits (more than seven hours a day), and under-exercises (less than 150 minutes each week) is more than four times as likely to die early compared to someone who doesn’t practice these habits.

  • A person who smokes, has a high alcohol intake, and lacks in the sleep department (less than seven hours a night) is also four times more likely to pass away before their time.

These two-step unhealthy actions were linked to doubling the risk of an early demise:

  • Being physically inactive and getting too much sleep

  • Being physically inactive and sitting too much

  • Smoking and high alcohol intake

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“Evidence has increased in recent years to show that too much sitting is bad for you and there is growing understanding about the impact of sleep on our health, but this is the first study to look at how those things might act together,” lead author Melody Ding said in a press release. “When you add a lack of exercise into the mix, you get a type of ‘triple whammy’ effect. Our study shows that we should really be taking these behaviors together as seriously as we do other risk factors such as levels of drinking and unhealthy eating patterns.”

“For the first time — meaning about the last 50 years or so — in the history of mankind we do not ‘need’ to move,” Heather A. Hausenblas, PhD, physical activity and healthy aging expert and associate professor at Jacksonville University’s College of Healthcare Sciences, tells Yahoo Health. “We have engineered physical activity out of our day with such inventions as the car, washing machines, dishwashers, riding lawn mowers, drive-throughs, escalators, etc.”

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Statistically speaking, the World Health Organization estimates that 3.3 million people die around the globe each year due to physical inactivity, making it the fourth leading underlying cause of mortality, Hausenblas says. “The current worldwide low activity levels are now referred to as a ‘pandemic of physical inactivity,” she adds. “Worldwide, there has been a shift from concerns about infectious diseases (i.e., tuberculosis, measles, and influenza) undermining public health to risks posed by chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.”

Hausenblas emphasizes that along with making adjustments in our everyday lifestyles, society needs “to change our physical and built environment.” For example, companies should offer employees standup desks and create work exercise challenges with financial incentives.

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Also, local authorities “should make our cities more ‘walkable’ — like providing additional sidewalks and bike lanes,” she says, along with closing off streets to motorized traffic in order to encourage citizens to bike, walk, and jog.

“Cities, such as Seattle and Oklahoma, that have made a concerted effort to make their cities more walkable have resulted in increased physical activity of the people,” she states. “Leaders need to lead by example.”

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