September 01, 2009

Sleeping: Too much, too little, you're screwed

funny pictures of cats with captions

Where were all these studies when I was in high school?

A sure sign that I was born a generation too early: High school should start at 11 am, says scientist

According to a white-coated researcher, "...the body's internal circadian clock shifts tends to drift more in this age group than in others, with the signal to fall asleep occurring slightly later each day. Dr. Russell Foster, an Oxford professor of neuroscience ... demonstrated an improvement in the students' memory when they were tested at 2 PM as compared to at 9 AM."

I like the sound of this. I don't care if it's verified by additional research, it just sounds good. Now, if only they could extend these findings to include people who go to work, then life would be nice.

Yes, I know, I'm not holding my breath for that study. I always figured that at least if I ever retire I'd be able to sleep in. I mean, maybe we can't rely on social security or 401k stuff in old age, but there's always the prospect of being able to turn off the alarm and going back to bed.

Or is there???

A study in the European Journal of Neurology claims that Sleeping in can be an early sign of dementia.

"Experts at the University Hospital of Madrid in Spain studied 3,286 men and women aged 65 or over. Each one was questioned on their health and lifestyle, including how many hours sleep they had on average over a 24-hour period, including afternoon naps. The volunteers were then tracked for more than three years, during which time 140 went on to develop Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia.
The results showed the biggest increase in risk was among those averaging more than eight or nine hours a day, either by lying in the mornings or napping in the afternoon. In a report on their findings the researchers said: "We found a significant association between long sleep duration and dementia."
funny pictures of cats with captions

The only way I can reconcile these two findings is the conclusion that one of the following two theories are true:

  • It's okay to sleep in when you're a teenager, but once you're an "old person" you have to get up early, damn it.

  • --OR--
  • Just make sure you stay up late at night reading blogs, regardless of whether you're old or a young'un. That way, even if you sleep in until 11 AM, you won't have gotten too much sleep. So you'll be okay.

What -- you got a better idea? Bring it on!


  1. I'm a night owl anyway. And a crabby fitness person. Glad to find you! Sleeping a LOT is one sign of depression, too, by the way.

  2. What about sleeping for 3 hours and then waking up, reading blogs for a while, and then going back to sleep?

    Not that I ever do that.;)

  3. ahhh sleep I miss ye (thanks to a sick child.still.again.).

    have you read the book Stress for Success? back in the dark ages I rad it and the one thing which stuck with me is that the most highly successful people get up at the same time daily.
    week day or weekend.

    and never get off their schedule.

    I tend to do that and it works for me.
    Uh, notsomuch in the success arena :) (too relative to adjudicate) but in the never feeling tiiiiired monday mornings.

  4. What about waking up all night long? I so hate that cheery health advice to "be sure you're getting enough sleep." I'd love to, but when lying down and closing your eyes doesn't work, what next?

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  5. I wouldn't take a study on older spanish people's sleep patterns as representative. In spain people eat, drink and work at a completely different rhythm to others in Europe and I suppose the US too, with a really late lunch, a long lull in the afternoon and eating their evening meal well after 9.30. Probably not comparable.

  6. Sleep needs change.

    Even from day to day, depending on your activity level, you will need more or less sleep.

    Yet we don't have flexible schedules to accommodate this.

    I don't know the solution, but you are right to be cranky about it, as I am, because morning comes awfully early around here.

  7. Does that mean I'm old at 36 because I never sleep in...WAHHH Say it isn't so

  8. I agree with Miz about getting up around the same time every day.. but for me that's just the only way i can guarantee i get a cup of coffee and a shower before my *almost* 1 yr old wakes up.

    am I more successful? i dunno. but I'm clean!

  9. It seems no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up at the same time. Without an alarm! Sometimes I feel like such a geek.

  10. I try to get up around the same time every day, but it's tough sometimes.

  11. Getting too much sleep is NEVER a problem. More than 5 hours (and in one shot) would be nice. I wonder, as Solarity does.


  12. My nightly routine involves getting up 3 to 4 times to use the bathroom (I stop drinking my water at 6pm even) and my daily routine is napping to fill in for those gaps. Dementia? Ha - only if I'm napping while driving.

  13. "Sleeping in can be an early sign of dementia."
    Oh crap.
    But I love to sleep in...I find with working out and work and life that my saturday ritual of just turning off the clock and sleeping until when my body gets me up keeps me sane and helps recharge my batteries. But then I never have trouble sleeping - I can sleep anywhere, and I know keeping a schedule makes getting up (as a night owl) easier, but I still can't let go of the sleeping in.
    Besides, if I'm senile I can sleep all I like right?

  14. Geosomin, that's a good point. Hadn't occurred to me.
    I love the luxury of being able to turn off the alarm and snuggle back under the covers on a cold morning.

  15. I thought high school DID start at 11:00??

  16. I am all about some sleep. I care not about the dementia so long as I can sleep in. Now why is my shoe in the dishwasher?

  17. These types of studies make for interesting generalizations and I have no doubt they result in useful ways to help people with real problems, but I think most folks would sleep a lot better if they weren't being made to feel like they're doing it wrong.

  18. just found your blog! I'm looking forward to reading more your posts.

    Love this topic by the way. Have been mulling this over myself for the past few weeks... I am clearly in the 'too little' category!

  19. Um, is anyone else getting a hypnosis-like effect from this post and the comments? The more I read the word "sleep," the sleepier I get! And I wasn't the least bit sleepy when I started.

  20. Yeah, I frequently put people to sleep when I start talking ;)

    I mean, all I have to do is start telling people how I was born, poor but honest, in a log cabin that I built with my own hands, and then... Crabby? Crabby? Hey, wake up already!

  21. As someone who is almost 30 and just slept for 12 hours, I plan to ignore the second study. I like sleep, dammit!

  22. Hmmm...The problem with the interpretation of the second study is that correlation does not equal cause. If you took a similar group and had them change their sleeping habits to the "optimal" range, would it prevent them from developing dementia or Alzheimer's?

    What I've found interesting is that I'm getting about the same amount of sleep now that school is back in session (or some nights, even more, because we're getting to bed pretty much right after the kids get to bed), but I'm feeling waaay more tired. Guess I'll get used to it.

  23. People always ask, are you a morning person or an evening person but I've always said I was a midday person :-)

  24. I can wake up early, no problem. I just want a nap about an hour later and then I'm raring to go. I wonder what experts would say about that? ;-)

  25. sleep .. perchance to dream. i never nap tho.. i'm such a creature of routine... sleep pretty much the same 6-7 hrs


  26. Just find your blog..
    Sleeping too long make me feel exhausted when waking up...
    But, usually can't sleep, maybe it's because of the cigarettes...

  27. I'm with the latter ;)

    My body wakes me up early. Waking up at 9am is sleeping in for me. No matter what time I go to bed the night before. Consequently I'm tired pretty much all the time, heh.

  28. Sagan, a lot of people find that this blog induces sleepiness. At least, when I'm blogging. Even Crabby ;)

    Marijke, hey there, stranger! Where you been? We missed you!

    Manker, so long as you're coherent, we won't tell people how long you're sleeping ;)

    L.A. ... um... maybe the smoke is bothering you? That's a sign you should move out of southern California ;)

    (Mind you, I have multiple cousins living in Southern California and they all think I'm crazy for a) being born in Northern California and b)moving to Oregon)

  29. Oh, I could nap as an Olympic sport. I guess that means I'm going to lose my marbles at an early age!


Thanks for commenting, Cranky Fitness readers are the BEST!

Subscribe to comments via RSS

(Note: Older Comment Threads Are Moderated)