Sleeping Too Much or Too Little May Impact Mental Health Similarly

Experts recommend that adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night in order to maintain mental acuity and a well-rested physical presence throughout the day. But new research underscores the importance of this information, by demonstrating how varying from those recommendations can negatively impact mental health. The findings show that people who slept between six and nine hours each night reported fewer symptoms of depression and a better quality of life than those who slept for a longer or shorter duration. Even among those respondents who claimed to be in excellent health, diverging from the recommended amount of sleep resulted in increased depressive symptoms and lower scores for quality of life.

“These results are important because they provide more information about the importance of getting enough sleep, which is usually six to nine hours per night,” said principal investigator Dr. Charles Bae, neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center in Ohio. “People may already expect that their quality of life could be decreased when they do not get enough sleep, but they may not realize that sleeping too much can also have a negative impact.” The researchers looked at data from over 10,000 patients with an average age of 52 years. They implemented the EQ-5D questionnaire to determine the participants’ quality of life and they assessed depression by using the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire. The researchers categorized long sleep as exceeding nine hours, and short sleep as being fewer than six hours. “It was surprising to see that sleeping less than six hours and more than nine hours is associated with a similar decrease in quality of life and increase in depressive symptoms,” said Bae. “I thought that there would be changes in quality of life and degree of depressive symptoms for short and long sleepers, but did not expect that those changes would be similar in both groups.”

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • jon


    June 17th, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    wow,I never though even too much sleep could be bad, except for making you lazy…I tend to sleep too much because I have flexible working hours as my computer is my office but I think I’m gonna change that soon…

  • Mona Raines

    Mona Raines

    June 18th, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    “People may already expect that their quality of life could be decreased when they do not get enough sleep, but they may not realize that sleeping too much can also have a negative impact.” Ok, I’m with you so far. What I want to know is how you can tell what the optimal sleep time is for you.

    Nine hours compared to six is a 50% increase. Do you just try different times and see which one makes you feel best?

    And how long would you need to do that for to be able to judge that-one night at so many hours or a week at so many hours, or what? Thanks.

  • liz d

    liz d

    June 18th, 2011 at 5:05 AM

    Sleep is so important in life, so much more than most of us give it credit for. It is just like now I have been seeing things that tie bully kids to getting too little sleep. Now that is a reason to establish a firm bedtime for their kids! But given that how one of the main symptoms of depression is sleeping too much or too little I am not at all surprised that these findings or poorer mental action are being substantiated.

  • Marleen


    June 18th, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    I have a question because I feel like just because you are in the bed sleeping for the right amount of time does not mean that this is the kind of quality of sleep that you need to be the most productive and functioning. There are times when I know I have been in the ebd for hours but I feel more tired than I did when I went to bed. I have thought about having a sleep study done but know that would be expensive. So quality definitely has to outweigh quantity.

  • I.M. L.

    I.M. L.

    June 19th, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    It’s funny we have this information coming to light at around the same time as that about how insomniacs can wind up having thoughts of suicide. Do you think that if they were to get more regular sleep, they would have an improvement in their attitude towards life?

    I feel that’s one of those things that you have to learn to live with best you can and find coping mechanisms.

  • Ebony George

    Ebony George

    June 19th, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    When we aren’t getting enough sleep we do tend to be exceptionally grouchy throughout the following day. This does double for interrupted sleep.

    I feel personally that no sleep at all is preferable to being constantly disturbed while you’re trying to get some sleep yourself. There’s nothing worse than finally dozing off only to be wakened half an hour later by the alarm clock.



    June 19th, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    All this biology is confusing…too little and it’s bad for you,too much and it’s bad for you…worst part is that the ‘just right’ is not the same for all people…!

  • Ronan West

    Ronan West

    June 19th, 2011 at 11:23 PM

    Sleep has a substantial impact on one’s physical wellbeing as well as your mental state and attitude. I feel very sorry for anyone that has to deal with insomnia night after night. It must be soul-destroying. I simply cannot function if I’ve had less than eight solid hours straight and that’s after only one bad night.

  • Yvonne Saunders

    Yvonne Saunders

    June 19th, 2011 at 11:59 PM

    @jon–I end up in bed much longer than I have to be because I’m often interrupted by noisy neighbors coming home and their dogs barking. It’s so inconsiderate! Result, I get a terrible night’s sleep and everyone wonders why I’m in a permanently foul mood. I’m tired!

    I’m very considerate in the wee hours of the morning too – if I come home late, I lock up the car quietly, no slamming doors or chatter, and creep into the house so as not to waken my neighbors or their dogs. Why can’t they do the same? Unfortunately they aren’t the approachable type that I could talk to about it.

  • Gail Prince

    Gail Prince

    June 20th, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    @Mona–It varies from person to person. There are a few people out there who only need 3 or 4 hours of sleep, or say they do anyway. Some of us need 8 or 9, and some feel awful unless they get 12.

    You simply have to keep experimenting with different sleep periods and find out what works. If you feel better after 6 hours sleep than 9, then 6 is obviously closer to your ideal night’s sleep. It’s
    trial and error.

  • Rachel Berg

    Rachel Berg

    June 20th, 2011 at 4:32 AM

    Sleep is one of the most important things that we can do for our bodies but too often it is the one thing that we scrifice and think that can be given up. This article clearly shows that this is not the truth. Sleep, and the right amount of sleep is critical for everyone and cannot be ignored! Either getting too much or too little is destined to create a whole host of problems for us all. It may take a while to figure out exactly how much is your optimum amount but it is worth determining.

  • Lizzie Pennington

    Lizzie Pennington

    June 22nd, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    @Rachel–There was a blog about a man that was getting by with around four hours or so of sleep every day because he used polyphasic sleep techniques in order to nap briefly for 30 minutes at a time a few times daily.

    I’ve wanted to try it but I don’t have the self-discipline for it. I like my bed too much. :)

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on