Can you have too much of a good thing when it comes to sleep? Everyone knows you that a good night’s sleep is essential for good health so does that mean that more sleep is better? Not necessarily, because oversleeping is linked to myriad health problems ranging from headaches to heart disease to increased risk of death. Researchers note that two other factors: depression and low socio-economic status – are associated with oversleeping. Those two factors may be the reason for the observed negative health effects; the reason for this is individuals of lower socioeconomic status may not have access to health care and might have more undiagnosed illnesses, such as heart disease, which, in turn, may cause oversleeping.
The amount of sleep an individual needs varies during the course of your lifetime because of age, activity level, general lifestyle habits and overall health. As an example, during times of stress or other illness your body will crave more sleep. Even though your sleep needs vary from time to time, it’s recommended that adults should get between seven and nine hours each night.
For those who suffer from hypersomnia, oversleeping is a medical disorder. The condition causes people to suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day, which is not usually relieved by napping. It also causes them to sleep for unusually long periods of time at night. Many people with hypersomnia experience anxiety, low energy, and memory problems as a result of their almost constant need for sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that causes people to stop breathing momentarily during sleep, can also lead to an increased need for sleep. That’s because it disrupts the normal sleep cycle.
Of course, not everyone who oversleeps has a sleep disorder. Other possible causes of oversleeping include the use of certain substances, such as alcohol and some prescription medications. Other medical conditions, including depression, can cause people to oversleep.
Here are seven diseases that could come from getting too much sleep:
- Diabetes – Researchers found that in a study of 9,000 patients there was a link between sleep and high risk of diabetes that shows that people who slept more than nine hours a night had a 50% high risk of diabetes than those who slept seven hours or less.
- Headaches – For people susceptible to headaches, sleeping longer than normal on a weekend or vacation can lead to head pain. The reason for this could be that oversleeping affects neurotransmitters in the brain. The research also shows that people who sleep too much during the day and who ultimately disrupt their nighttime sleep suffer from more headaches.
- Obesity – A recent study shows that people who sleep nine or ten hours a night were 21% more likely to become obese over a six year period than those who slept between seven and eight hours. Obesity remained constant even when food intake and exercise were factored in.
- Depression – Insomnia is linked to depression more than oversleeping, but close to 15% of people with depression slept too much and this could worsen depression. Regular sleep habits are important to recovery from depression.
- Back pain – In the past when you suffered back pain, doctors ordered bed rest but that is no longer a practice. You might need to cut back on regular exercise but doctors now feel that maintaining a certain level of activity leads toward recovery.
- Heart disease – A study of 72,000 women, undertaken by the Nurses’ Health Study shows that women who slept nine to 11 hours per night were 38% more likely to suffer coronary disease than those who slept eight hours or less. The reason for the increase has not been identified yet.
- Death – While an extreme complication from oversleeping studies found that people who sleep nine or more hours a night have higher death rates than those who sleep fewer hours. There have been no specific reasons for this death/oversleeping relationship.
If you find yourself sleeping more than eight hours per night or falling asleep unexpectedly during the day, see a doctor or a sleep specialist for a check-up. Regardless of the reasons for your oversleeping, you should practice good sleep habits and one of the best is to keep the same bedtime and wake times on both weekdays and weekends.