We commonly hear that healthy sleep is essential. A good night’s rest nourishes our bodies and recharges us for a successful start. It can be the difference between us being productive or unproductive each day. It can be the difference between a positive or negative each day. While getting solid rest every night is recommended by experts, is there such a thing as having too much sleep? Can oversleeping damage your health?
It’s important that we first identify what oversleeping really means. While sleep needs vary from person to person, experts recommend that healthy adults get an average of seven to nine hours each night. This is standard for most adults between 18 and 64 years of age. If you regularly need more than eight or nine hours of sleep every night to get rested, it may be a sign of an underlying problem, Vsevolod Polotsky, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins says.
Many people do not realize that there are a host of medical problems linked to oversleeping. One of those medical issues is diabetes. Some studies have linked sleeping too long or not enough to an increased risk of diabetes. A study that looked at both the extended hours of sleep and shorter lengths of time-related to a higher risk of diabetes found that those who slept more than eight hours were three times as high risk of developing compared to those who slept for seven hours a day. These facts did not change when factors like age, smoking, education and hypertension were added.
Another medical problem linked to oversleeping is obesity. A study found that people who slept for nine hours or 10 hours every night were 21 percent more likely to be obese over a six-year period than those who slept between the recommended seven to eight hours. These factors also remained the same when diet and exercise were added factors.
Do you frequently get headaches? Research has found a link between sleeping longer hours to head pain. You may notice these headaches springing up when you are on vacation or resting over the weekend. Researchers think this is because oversleeping influences certain neurotransmitters in the brain. This includes serotonin. You may run into this issue if you are getting too much sleep during the day and disrupt your nighttime sleep.
On the flip side, getting too little sleep can disrupt your sleep. Several factors can cause you to be sleep-deprived. Long work hours can leave you sleep-deprived and cause you to lose focus on the things that matter. Relationship stress can negatively impact your sleeping behavior, causing you to sleep shorter or longer hours depending on how you deal with stress. The way we deal with stress can lead you to a place where you are not focused on your health or well-being. People also don’t think about the role the entertainment we consume can impact our sleeping behaviors. The time we spend investing in our phone screens and TV can destroy our sleep.
While sleeping a little longer over the weekends should not be a big deal, regularly sleeping more than nine hours each night may be worth taking a deeper look into. Michele Roberge, who leads a hospital-based sleep disorder center specializing in treating patients dealing with sleep apnea, says that anyone sleeping more than nine hours each night should have their sleep evaluated.
“Your body needs deep restorative sleep, and if that is not happening during the recommended eight hours, your body will instinctively try to prolong the sleep period to obtain the quality of sleep it needs,” Roberge said.
She adds that we should be looking at the factors that may be causing poor sleep quality. This can include certain lights, noises and uncomfortable beds, chronic pain and sleeping disorders like sleep apnea.
“There are so many potential contributing factors, it is best to speak to a sleep specialist who can get a general overview of the sleep habits, sleep environment and medical history that could be playing a role in the excessive sleep,” Roberge said.
Medical experts recommend keeping the same bedtimes and waking up at the same times every day to maintain good sleeping habits. Medical experts also recommend staying off caffeine and alcohol right around bedtime. It is also helpful to set your bedroom up for success. Look at your current sleep space to ensure that the sounds, lights and temperatures are set for comfortable rest. The bright lights on our computers, TVs and smartphones are known to keep us up, whereas darkness supports melatonin release, which can be calming. Certain noises can disrupt sleep, but there are also calm noises that can help you get a proper night’s rest.
Setting your thermostat to a comfortable temperature can promote good sleep. Cooler temperatures are said to support better sleep.Finally, what you lay on can play one of the biggest roles in your ability to sleep the recommended number of hours. The age of your mattress can play a role in your sleep. If the average bed is supposed to last around eight years, consider getting better support if your mattress is older. Purchasing the right mattress can play a big role in how you sleep at night.
If sleeping more than eight hours each night is a regular part of your sleep routine, you may want to consult a doctor and get a medical evaluation. You may also be able to enter a sleep study to rule out a sleeping disorder. A doctor is the best person to determine if you’re oversleeping and why. Your oversleeping may be a result by external factors like alcohol and some prescription medications. If your oversleeping is a result of an underlying medical issue, treating the condition may help you return to your normal sleeping patterns.