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Triple board-certified in Sleep Medicine,
Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics.
How Much Sleep Is “Too Much Sleep”? | What Are the Causes of Oversleeping? |
What Are The Dangers Of Oversleeping? | How Can I Get the Right Amount of Sleep?
We are warned about the dangers of not getting enough sleep. But, should we be concerned about getting too much sleep?
Many studies have established that poor sleep can negatively affect physical and mental health. However, more recently, researchers have been finding links between excessive amounts of sleep and different health concerns.
Oversleeping for nine or more hours every day can be the symptom of an underlying medical condition, and in turn, it can increase the risk of various health problems.
This article discusses what oversleeping is, what can cause it, how it affects your health, and how you can avoid sleeping too much.
How Much Sleep Is “Too Much Sleep”?
Oversleeping, or excessive sleeping, is when you regularly sleep for nine or more hours a day.
For a while now, researchers have been investigating the importance of sleep and how different sleeping patterns can affect our health and everyday life. A good amount of sleep is essential for both mental and physical health.
Exactly how much sleep do we need? The amount of sleep a person needs every night is affected by several things, including age, gender, general health, stress levels, sleep quality, and pregnancy.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7-9 hours of daily sleep for healthy young adults and adults and between 7-8 hours for healthy older adults.
Occasionally sleeping in on the weekend or while you’re sick may not be such a big deal. However, you should consult your doctor if you regularly sleep for nine hours or more.
Sleeping too much can indicate an underlying medical condition, and oversleeping can negatively affect your mental and physical health.
People who sleep excessively, more than nine hours a night, might also experience the following oversleeping symptoms:
● The excessive need to nap during the day
● Excessive sleepiness during the day
What Are the Causes of Oversleeping?
Several factors can affect the quality and duration of your sleep. Oversleeping and excessive daytime sleepiness may be caused by:
1) Sleep Debt
Sleep debt, or sleep deficit, is when you sleep less than you need for several days. Sometimes, you may need to pull all-nighters or stay up late for several days in a row to study for an upcoming exam or finish a big work project.
As a result, you end up with an accumulated lack of sleep, known as sleep debt.
Later, you may need to sleep for longer hours than usual to make up for your sleep debt.
2) Environmental Factors
Studies have shown that the less light exposure you get at night, the more you sleep. That’s because the longer you’re exposed to darkness, the more melatonin you secrete. Elevated levels of melatonin can increase your total sleep time.
Therefore, sleeping in a dark room can make you oversleep. People with blackout curtains are more likely to sleep for long periods.
Additionally, if you’ve just moved to a country where the nights can last for long hours (14 hours or more), you’ll probably sleep more than usual.
3) Sleeping Disorders
Several sleep disorders can cause you to stay in bed for longer hours, such as:
● Sleep Apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea causes temporary pauses in breath during sleep. Consequently, you’ll wake up several times at night, which leads to poor sleep. As a result, you may try to sleep longer to compensate for lost sleep.
● Secondary Narcolepsy: Secondary narcolepsy is a condition that can result from an injury to the hypothalamus. The damage in the hypothalamus can cause you to sleep for more than 10 hours each night.
● Hypersomnia: Hypersomnia is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and feeling tired even after a long night’s sleep. The constant fatigue from hypersomnia can cause you to sleep as much as 18 hours a day.
4) Substance Use
Excessive sleeping can be the result of substance use, such as:
● Alcohol: Consuming alcohol can make you sleepy, but it can also cause you to wake up several times during the night, which affects your sleep quality. Consequently, you’ll feel like you need long hours of sleep to get the rest you need.
● Drug Use: Addictive substances such as cocaine, cannabis, opioids, and nicotine can all cause disruptions in the sleep cycle and lead to poor sleep quality. Moreover, several prescription drugs, including antihistamines and antidepressants, can make you sleep more.
5) Depression and Anxiety
Sleep disorders are common in people with depression and anxiety. People with anxiety or depression commonly report oversleeping. They also experience excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue (hypersomnia), making them want to sleep more.
What Are The Dangers Of Oversleeping?
There is such a thing as getting too much sleep. Scientists suggest that there may be several disadvantages to oversleeping.
A large national study on oversleeping was done in France in 2014. The authors reported that people who sleep too much are likelier to have psychiatric disorders (such as depression) and a higher body mass index (BMI).
A recent study investigated the link between long sleep durations and health outcomes. The study found that long sleep was associated with several health concerns, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases.
Another study was done in 2013 that established that excessive sleeping could increase inflammation levels in the body.
Moreover, prolonged sleep durations can increase the risk of dementia, according to a population-based study conducted in Spain.
Oversleeping can also affect your brain. After analyzing the data from a study done in 2009, researchers found a link between excessive sleeping and decreased cognitive functions. Another study concluded that oversleeping could also cause memory problems.
How Can I Get the Right Amount of Sleep?
Consult a healthcare professional if you’re concerned you might be sleeping excessively. The following sleeping tips can help you avoid oversleeping and get the right amount of sleep:
● Stick to a Sleep Schedule: Try to sleep and get out of bed at the same time each day. If you’re worried you might not wake up on time on your own, set an alarm (or two) or ask someone to wake you at a specific hour.
● Try Not to Sleep In On Weekends: Oversleeping on your days off can disrupt your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep and wake up on time on other days.
● Create a Good Sleeping Environment: Keep a curtain or drape slightly open at night. While excess light and noise can make it harder for you to fall asleep, you’ll find it harder to get out of bed if you don’t have enough exposure to sunlight in the morning.
● Avoid Napping Late in the Day: Late daytime naps can make it harder for you to fall asleep during the night and lead to oversleeping.
● Avoid Drinking Alcohol Before Bed: Alcohol can decrease your sleep efficiency and make you feel the need to sleep longer.
● Exercise More: Regular physical activity relieves stress, reduces anxiety, and improves your sleep quality. Sleep disturbances can be the result of an underlying medical condition. They can also lead to severe health concerns and poor life quality. Contact your healthcare provider if you’re having trouble sleeping or you’ve been sleeping excessively.
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