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How can sleeping more help me live longer?

Get to bed a little earlier and you could extend your life. That's what a recent study suggests.

In the meta-analysis, where researchers pooled together the results of a body of research, it appeared that getting at least six hours of shut-eye each night was necessary for a long, healthy life. Any less than that was associated with a 12% increase in mortality risk.

Ahhh, to sleep. Perchance to live a longer life. Scientists aren't exactly sure why spending at least six hours sleeping each night is so essential. It may be that short sleep triggers chronic health problems by stimulating people's appetites -- and thus setting the stage for unhealthful overeating and weight gain. Or a lack of sleep may increase levels of inflammation and stress hormones in the body. Whatever the reason, each night make it a priority to get enough sleep to feel refreshed and revived each morning.

Good sleep improves your mood, your immune system and even your metabolism. But don't overdo a good thing. In the study, sleeping too much appeared to be even worse for longevity than sleeping too little. Getting more than eight hours of sleep per night was associated with a 30% increase in mortality risk in the study participants. It's not clear why, but researchers suspect that underlying health problems may cause people to sleep extra long. Treating those underlying, energy-depriving health problems could be another key to living a longer life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.