A study out today, covered in The Times and the Independent amongst other national newspapers, indicates that people who sleep more than 8 hours a night can have a higher risk of suffering from a stroke. However experts are currently unsure whether oversleeping is a cause or a symptom.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge said that those aged over 40 who regularly slept for over 8 hours were 46 per cent more likely to have a stroke. Researchers hypothesised that it was likely that people prone to stroke slept longer, rather than that sleeping longer caused a stroke.
Dr Madina Kara of the Stroke Association also commented that the study did not amount to evidence that too much sleep led to stroke and urged anyone with concerns about their health to speak to their GP.
The Daily Mirror also featured the story, alongside sleep "doze and don'ts" featuring our very own sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan. Dr Nerina rebuffs the myths that napping ruins night time sleep and that kids will only sleep when they're tired, but supports the theory that exercise is good for achieving quality sleep - as long as it doesn't take place too close to bedtime.
On the subject of quality sleep, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan says: "Sleep is a crucial way to repair and rebalance the body physically and mentally. Sleep requirements vary from person to person and for most of us, living in this age of information overload, the challenge is to achieve efficient, deep sleep, rather than a certain quota of hours. You are more likely to feel rejuvenated if you have had five or six hours of efficient sleep than seven or eight hours of shallow, restless sleep.
"That said, eight hours is a good average to work towards and if you are regularly struggling to sleep or sleeping too much, you should review your sleep strategies and make sure you're following the best lifestyle practices for optimal sleep."
If you're struggling to achieve quality deep sleep, try Dr Nerina's top tips for a great night's rest:
1. Creating the perfect sleep environment. A calm, tranquil bedroom free from clutter, junk and tech
2. Following a regular wind down routine. Read a book, listen to relaxing music, have a bath and use some relaxing essential oils such as lavender to help promote sleepiness.
3. Minimising stimulants. Caffeine has a direct impact on reducing sleep quality so reduce caffeine and increase your fluid intake by drinking more water, herbal teas and dilute fruit juices. Dehydration is a key cause of frequent waking or 'shallow' sleep
4. Managing the work/life balance. Set some rules about when you stop talking about work and allow your mind to wind down and switch off. Write your to-do list before leaving work instead of at the beginning of the day to stop you worrying about work in the evening.
5. Avoiding looking at your clock. If you do wake up in the night, avoid registering the time as you are more likely to start worrying about how little sleep you will get and therefore reduce your chances of getting back to sleep. Instead, lie on your back, relax, and breathe deeply, then tell yourself if you don't fall asleep and that you will just use the time to rest.