Risk Factor of The Week: Hours of Sleep

The Question: How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

How Your Response Matches Up

Possible Responses

Answer Quality

Less than 5 hours

5-6 hours

7-8 hours

9 hours

10 or more hours



Needs Improvement-

RiskAverse Conditions Affected


Breast Cancer

Colorectal Cancer

Lung Cancer

Chronic Conditions

Coronary Artery Disease

Diabetes Type 2

Mental Conditions

Understanding How Different Amounts of Sleep Affect Your Health

Everyone knows that getting high-quality sleep is extremely vital to your health. With that being said, you should note that both too little sleep and too much sleep are negative for your health. So, what is considered not enough sleep and oversleeping? What is the correct amount of sleep one should be getting? 

Although everyone is different and needs varying amounts of sleep, the worst health outcomes were associated with individuals who slept less than 5 hours or 10 or more hours. For adults of all ages, the best outcomes were consistently associated with sleeping 7-8 hours a night. Younger adults can get up to 9 hours of sleep; however, 7-8 hours is generally the best target to aim towards. (1) Improper sleep increases your risk for chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. In addition, it can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression. (2)

Poor Sleep and the Associated Health Outcomes

Sleep and Cancer

The exact reason for why improper sleep increases your risk for cancer is unknown. However, recent research indicates that it could be due to immune dysfunction, which leads to increased inflammation. (3)

  • Breast Cancer – Studies have shown that getting too much sleep increases your risk of developing breast cancer and the severity of the cancer itself. (4)
  • Colorectal Cancer – Individuals who got less than 6 hours of sleep had an increased incidence of colorectal adenomas. (5)
  • Lung Cancer – Short sleepers and long sleepers were shown to be at an increased risk of lung cancer compared to those getting 7-8 hours. (6)

Sleep and Chronic Conditions

Poor sleep patterns consistently have negative effects on cardio-metabolic factors associated with diabetes type 2 and coronary artery disease. (6)

  • Diabetes Type 2 – Shorter amounts of sleep were associated with a 28% increased risk of diabetes type 2.  The lack of adequate sleep caused poor glucose response and insulin dysfunction. (6)
  • Coronary Artery Disease – Shorter amounts of sleep have been shown to increase blood pressure and arterial calcification. (6,7)

Sleep and Mental Conditions

Lack of sleep has been shown to exacerbate depressive mood and anxiety symptoms. Changes in your sleep (increases or decreases) have also been shown to be common symptoms of depression. (8)

Everyone Needs Different Amounts of Sleep

Every person does not fall into the trend of strictly needing 7-8 hours of sleep. The ultimate goal is to get enough sleep to feel rested; if that is less or more than 7-8 hours, that is okay! The most important aspect to take note of is when your habits change unexpectedly or you are constantly tired during the day despite getting the regular hours of sleep. Identifying the changes can more accurately indicate an underlying concern. So, use the 7-8 hours rule as a general guideline rather than an enforced rule.