Is There Such Thing As Getting Too Much Sleep?
Sometimes it seems like all we do is tell you to get more sleep. Sleep is the restorative time for your mind and body, and a lack of sleep can lead to numerous health problems now and later in life. But what about the other end? Is there such thing as getting too much sleep?
- Seven to nine hours is the recommended amount of sleep
- More than 10 hours of sleep per night is considered too much for the majority
- Sleeping too much is not great for your health, but sleeping too little is worse
Sleep is important for numerous physical, cognitive, and psychological processes and is necessary to survive. However, depending on an adult's age, environmental, and socio-cultural factors, the exact number of hours of sleep required every day is still unclear. Some writers suggest that people have 8 hours of sleep, while others feel that 7 hours is plenty. Currently, getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night is regularly considered to be healthy. Getting too much sleep is said of people who sleep more than 10 hours per night.
When it comes to sleep, many struggle to get enough, sleep deprivation is common and known to be harmful to one's health. Sleep studies have revealed that not getting enough sleep can impact memory, immunity, and safety. Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other cardiovascular disorders have all been linked to chronic low sleep duration (less than 6 hours).
Acute sleep deprivation (defined as sleeping 2-4 hours per night) has proven to increase inflammation and weaken immune response in individuals. But did you realize that too much sleep may be harmful as well? Oversleeping has also been linked to a variety of health issues, including:
- Obesity - When it comes to gaining weight, sleep has a direct effect. However, both getting too little (less than 5 hours) and too much sleep (more than 10 hours) are linked to higher rates of obesity.
- Depression - The link between sleep problems and depression is a two-way street. Impaired sleep is both a risk factor for and a sign of depression. Several types of sleep problems, such as narcolepsy, circadian rhythm abnormalities, and insomnia, are risk factors for depression. Hypersomnia (too much sleep) can occur in some situations of depression, however it usually appears as insomnia or trouble falling or staying asleep. This might be related to a disrupted sleep cycle (leading to oversleeping to compensate for the sleep loss) or inflammation.
- Back Pain - Too little movement or too much time in bed might aggravate back discomfort. Back discomfort can also be exacerbated by sleeping in a non-ergonomic positions or on an outdated or unsupportive mattress. When these variables are combined with staying motionless for an extended length of time, many people wake up with severe back discomfort, especially if they spend more time in bed.
- Heart disease - One study, which included over 71,000 middle-aged women, revealed links between sleep duration and heart health. Those who slept nine to 11 hours each night were 38 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease than women who slept eight hours or less.
Ironically, the most common symptom for oversleeping is feeling tired, and napping. The quality of sleep should be assessed if someone sleeps too much, more than 10 hours each night. If your sleep is of poor quality, you may find yourself spending more time in bed. Your body requires deep restorative sleep, and if you don't get it during the recommended 8 hours, your body will try to extend the sleep period in order to get the quality of sleep it requires.
There are many things that could affect your sleep. If you are questioning your sleeping patterns, do not forget to take these into account:
1. Environmental factors
These types of variables are often overlooked because we feel they are outside our control. However, lights, noises, an uncomfortable bed, etc. are all factors that you can take into account and attempt to remedy in order to get a higher quality of sleep. If you are getting too much sleep, inefficient sleep may be a part of the reason.
Any medications, prescription or otherwise, are a factor you may overlook. Make sure you are noting any quantity changes or changes in the time that you are ingesting your medications.
3. Comorbid conditions
As noted before, conditions like depression can be a cause as well as a symptom of getting too much sleep. Other conditions such as chronic pain can also have this effect. If you are able to, addressing any condition that is affecting your health may help you in normalizing your sleep schedule.
4. Sleep disorders
Of course, having a specific sleep disorder could be a cause of your oversleeping. Sleep apnea, narcolepsy, bruxism, PLMD, etc. are all diseases that could impact sleep quality and cause you to engage in oversleeping.
If you have taken all of these into account, here's some extra sleeping tips to help get you the optimal sleep you desire:
- Do not oversleep on weekends; this will disrupt your circadian cycles, making falling asleep much more difficult during the week.
- When you first wake up, expose yourself to strong sunshine. This will help you to start the day, not go back to sleep and not get too much sleep.
- Avoid taking naps and drinking caffeine, especially after 4 p.m. These can make falling asleep more difficult and lead to oversleeping.
Even though sleep is necessary for life, too much sleep is not a good idea. However, according to research it is better than too little sleep. While oversleeping probably won’t kill you, its relationship to depression and obesity should not be overlooked. If you can enjoy the day, then do it, go outside, get some activities in, and hopefully you can have a satisfying sleep.
Written by Kiana St. Onge