A life lived at full throttle can't be sustained. Eventually we start calling it a night and asking for the doggie bag after a couple of rounds. We begin feeling more sorry for than envious of Charlie Sheen. But what about overindulging in the stuff that seems so good for us? Sleep, for instance. Or coffee. Or antioxidants. If those things are inherently good -- even lifesaving -- can't we just gorge ourselves on them? After all, who ever heard of someone going on an antioxidant bender?
Nobody: That's the problem. So we combed the research and consulted experts across a range of specialties. In our process of elimination, we were thrilled to hear that it's difficult to OD on sex or masturbation. Ditto fruits and vegetables. But the dark sides of other health-enhancing moves surprised us. Toxicologists have an expression for this principle: "The dose makes the poison." That's never been truer than with these five "good" things.
If a deficit of nightly sleep can make you gain weight and lose mental sharpness as well as increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, then scoring tons of shut-eye must be just what the doctor ordered, no? No. In a 2010 study in the journal Sleep, men who logged 9 or more hours a night were 43 percent more likely to have heart disease than 7-hour sleepers-- regardless of their age, BMI, physical activity, alcohol use, and preexisting diseases.
But you may be among the minority of people who naturally need a lot of sleep--which is okay, as long as you feel refreshed the next day. (Struggling To Sleep? Discover 6 ways to sleep better.) "If you're still sleepy, something may be affecting sleep quality, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome," says Clete Kushida, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of Stanford Sleep Medicine Center. "These conditions fragment sleep, so they can actually make you sleep longer." If you suspect one of these is a factor, your physician can refer you to a sleep center for evaluation.
Wake up easier If you're just sleeping too much, set your TV timer to wake you up--the light-and-noise combo is more rousing than an alarm clock, says Christopher Winter, M.D., a Men's Health advisor and medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital sleep medicine center in Charlottesville, Virginia. "Light tells your brain to stop making the sleep hormone melatonin," he says. "This is better than leaving the curtain open--flickering TV light is more bothersome to your brain than steady light."
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