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Sleep Complaints in Long and Short Sleepers

The problems associated with short sleep, including insomnia and sleep deprivation, have been researched in depth. However, problems associated with long sleep have not been systematically studied. Since many people are told to “get more sleep” because they are sleep deprived, are short sleepers, or because they have insomnia, it is important to determine if there are problems associated with long sleep. Although recent studies have consistently documented a relationship between long sleep and increased morbidity, no studies have examined whether long sleepers report sleep complaints in comparison to short sleepers.

In a study in the current issue of Psychosomatic Medicine (66: 239-241), Dr. Daniel Kripke from the University of California at San Diego and colleague Michael Grandner analyzed data from the 2001 National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep In America Poll to examine sleep complaints in individuals who slept 9-10 hours (long sleepers) and 4-6 hours (short sleepers) compared to mid-range sleepers (7-8 hours).

The sample in this study consisted of 1004 adults between the ages of 18 and 86. In addition to questions on the Sleep In America Poll that assessed sleep duration, all subjects were asked about difficulty falling asleep, being awake during the night, waking too early, waking feeling un-refreshed and sleepiness during the day. The researchers found that each of these five sleep complaints were more common in both short and long sleepers compared to mid-range sleepers.

Furthermore, the shorter or longer one slept, the more sleep complaints he or she reported. Although it was expected that short sleepers would report more sleep complaints than mid-range sleepers, the finding that long sleepers also reported more sleep complaints than mid-range sleepers was surprising and adds further support to the finding that longer sleep is not associated with improved health and well-being. These findings also raise the possibility that restricting longer sleep durations would reduce sleep complaints.

Read more in the Insomnia Corner.

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