Scientists have linked oversleeping to premature death, in a recent study that further emphasizes the health benefits of being physically active.
The investigation, whose findings were revealed in the journal PLOS ONE, was conducted by experts at the University of Sydney, led by Dr. Adrian Bauman, Director of Prevention Research Collaboration and Dr. Melody Ding, senior research fellow at the School of Public Health.
Scientists analyzed health data collected as part of the 45 and Up Study, which included more than 230,000 Australians. The subjects had been required to fill in a questionnaire investigating several aspects of their lifestyle: alcohol use, cigarette smoking, sleeping patterns, amount of physical exercise, and overall daily diet.
It was determined that oversleeping was actually just as damaging sleeping too little, especially when coupled with other types of harmful behavior, such as insufficient physical activity and excessive lengths of time spent sitting.
For instance, those who slept less than 7 hours per night and indulged in smoking and drinking were 4 times more at risk of premature death in comparison with the general population.
Equally detrimental to health was having nighttime rest amounting to more than 9 hours, especially when oversleeping was combined with physical inactivity and prolonged sitting (for more than 7 hours per day).
Another potentially fatal mix of poor lifestyle choices, doubling the likelihood of dying early, consisted in insufficient exercise (less than 150 minutes per week), associated with excessive sitting. Just as harmful was smoking, when occurring in conjunction with alcohol consumption.
As outlined by Professor Adrian Bauman, the most important aspect revealed by this recent study is that when different types of harmful behavior occur simultaneously, their combined effect can be catastrophic.
Back in 2012 for instance, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung conditions were responsible for 68% of all the deaths in the world, while also placing a significant burden on the world’s economy.
Basically, these conditions which are to some extent within the individual’s control resulted in much higher mortality when compared to infectious diseases, such as HIV, lower respiratory infections, diarrhea, tuberculosis and malaria.
Therefore, more emphasis should be placed not just on discouraging a certain habit, such as smoking, but on identifying all the other risk factors that may be present alongside this particular one.
Numerous diseases that are ubiquitous nowadays are actually preventable just by changing one’s lifestyle, but that refers to the entire set of damaging routines, not just to the more obvious ones.
Although more focus has been placed lately on the importance of healthy diets or on the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption, in fact less documented aspects should also be taken into account, such as the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting or sleeping).
Not just patients should be aware of such health hazards, but also policymakers, so as to introduce more comprehensive guidelines and prevention programs.
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