Getting too much sleep can be just as dangerous as having too little

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How much sleep do you think you need? You may not be the best judge of that.

President Donald Trump doesn’t get much more than 40 winks. The president gets 4 to 5 hours sleep a night. The late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously claimed to get 4 hours per night, bolstering her image as “The Iron Lady.” Some historians have cast doubt on that.

But new research suggests people should get between 6 and 8 hours sleep. Epameinondas Fountas, cardiology specialty registrar at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens, Greece, said that’s a “sweet spot” and the most beneficial for a healthy heart, and more or less is detrimental.

“We spend one-third of our lives sleeping, yet we know little about the impact of this biological need on the cardiovascular system,” he said. He studied the relationship between sleep duration and cardiovascular disease using a statistical tool to crunch the results of previous studies on the topic.

‘We spend one-third of our lives sleeping yet we know little about the impact of this biological need on the cardiovascular system.’

—Epameinondas Fountas, cardiology specialty registrar at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens, Greece

This “meta-analysis” released Sunday included 11 prospective studies of more than 1 million adults without cardiovascular disease published within the last five years. The research found that both short and long sleepers had a greater risk of developing or dying from coronary artery disease or stroke.

Moa Bengtsson, a researcher at the University of Gothenburg, also released similar research last weekend concluding that middle-aged men who sleep 5 hours or less per night have twice the risk of developing a major cardiovascular event over the next 20 years than men who sleep 7 to 8 hours.

Don’t miss: 5 ways lack of sleep could alter the course of your life

Lack of sleep is a “public health epidemic” in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those experiencing a prolonged lack of sleep are also more likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, and cancer, increased mortality.

Earlier research suggests some people have a predisposition to sleep less, regardless of the health outcomes. A 2014 study in the journal Sleep said people with a gene variant p.Tyr362His — a variant of the BHLHE41 gene — can function on 5 hours sleep per night.

Still, CDC research shows that nearly one-third of U.S. adults get less than seven hours sleep and people overestimate the amount of time they sleep by around 45 minutes. People toss and turn before falling sleep, mull over their day and may even end up swiping away on their smartphone.

Sleep-deprived people are also more likely to feel lonelier and less inclined to engage with others, according to a study by researchers at researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, which was published earlier this month in the journal Nature Communications.

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