Too much sleep or too little sleep, that is the question. The truth is, while too much sleep may seem like a luxury, both are damaging to your overall health and a potential indication of mental and/or physical illness. Between busy schedules and the unexpectedness that is life, it is easy for our schedules to get out of line. One night you’re up too late, so you make extra time the following night for more sleep. The problem is, you still wake up tired.
Typically, for an average adult, it is recommended that they sleep 7-9 hours a night. While sleep may seem like what your body ‘needs’, too much sleep can actually affect diabetes, obesity, headaches, back pain, and depression, among a number of other ailments. Continue reading to learn about how oversleeping could be affecting you, how to avoid it, and how exactly to get that, just right amount of sleep.
How Much Sleep Is Too Much?
Sometimes we all feel like we could sleep for 20 hours in a row, but this is neither necessary, nor helpful, no matter how tired you are. Sleep is just as unique as the individual who is sleeping. In order to understand how much sleep is too much sleep, it is important to note, how much sleep is just enough. Generally 7-9 hours is all an average adult needs to be fully functional. So what does it mean to go over the limit?
Well there not just one factor, there’s many. Sleep is dependent upon a variety of factors, just like too much sleep is as well. These factors are as follows:
First and foremost your sleep is determined by your genes. Your genes determine your unique circadian rhythm and your slip drive; both of which at biological factors that affect sleep. Another factor is your age. Seven to nine hours is recommended, but that could mean 8 hours in your 20’s and 6 hours in your 50’s.
An important factor is also how active you are. Sleep is energy, we know that. So, the more energy you use throughout the day, the more sleep you need at night. Your health is also a strong determinant of sleep, because you will find that when you are sick, for example it’s a cold or flu, you need more sleep to fight it off.
Lastly, you entire life circumstance, basically stress, determines how much all you need as well. Being stressed, especially during times of change or upheaval, can thoroughly affect how you sleep. So there you have it, 7-9 might be the golden hour; some of us functioning on 6 even, but too much sleep is typically characterized by sleeping more than 9 hours and determined by a number of things.
Why Do People Sleep Too Much?
Oversleep doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it could be the result of a long week, or unfortunately a more serious health issue. For example, depression is often signified by staying in bed all day, but so is drugs/ medication, alcohol, or both. Under rare health circumstances, such as severe sleep apnea (when you repeatedly stop breathing throughout the night), more sleep is required, since sleep is often interrupted.
On the other hand, oversleeping can become a medical condition itself. This is called Hypersomnia. For individuals who have Hypersomnia, they will still feel tired even after having a full night’s rest, and will find themselves tired throughout the day, causing them to take naps at inopportune times. Hypersomnia also has various other side effects including: anxiety, irritability, lack of energy, loss of appetite, and memory loss. Don’t let oversleeping affect you for too long, before telling your doctor.
Individuals may also experience oversleeping for a variety of other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome. With narcolepsy, the brain lacks control over sleep and wake cycles, causing individuals to experience excessive sleepiness. When it comes to restless leg syndrome, tingling, twitching, and “creepy-crawly” feeling of the legs, cause a person to suddenly move their legs, and often.
You can imagine not being able to sleep all night because you can’t stop moving your legs. Other disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s also affect oversleeping, as well as epilepsy and being overweight. If you’re over sleeping, hopefully it’s just a random day for you, but if you suspect any of the above disorders, make sure to contact your doctor immediately.
How Does Oversleeping Affect You?
Even if you think oversleeping sounds like a dream come true, it can severely impact your circadian rhythm- the thing in your brain that manages your 24-hour sleep wake cycle. Feelings of lethargy, fatigue, and drowsiness are the results of a messed up circadian rhythm and can feel like jet lag, not knowing what time it is. There are also a number of other side effects that can occur as their bodies struggle to keep up with being out of sync. For example, people who reported oversleeping also report headaches throughout the day.
On a more critical level, oversleeping can have severe affects on the brain, including affecting overall levels of serotonin. Other side effects of oversleeping include lower back pain, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Overall, if you feel that you are oversleeping, you should reach out to your doctor. Serious conditions include: more severe depression, higher rates of suicide and suicide planning attempts, higher rates of impulse control disorder, and greater use of drug disorder.
Of the many more serious conditions that can result from oversleeping or lack of sleeping, is diabetes. While it cannot cause diabetes it can significantly increase your risk to develop diabetes. Oversleeping decreases your overall health, making you susceptible to illnesses such as this.
The affects of too much sleep and too little sleep being culprits for diabetes are still being heavily researched. The link is there, but the exact reasoning is still up for debate. Regardless, the best way to curb this is to have a consistent sleep routine that that gives you between 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Sleep and weight are one of the more closely connected functions of the body. People who oversleep tend to also be overweight. In fact, a study shows that people who slept for 9-10 hours per night were 21% more likely to become obese than those who only slept 6 or 7 hours.
It is important to listen to your body, but getting up and starting your day can mean a more healthy lifestyle. This is especially because even if you practice a healthy diet and exercise, oversleeping can still lead to obesity. It only makes sense right? Why stay in bed longer when you could get your body moving.
Some people consider headaches a nuisance, but a small nuisance to say the least. But when headaches become frequent due to oversleeping, they are hard to manage. Especially if you are prone to headaches, sleeping longer on the weekends or on vacation can actually increase head pain throughout the day.
Researchers claim that this is due to once again, seratonin, and the various levels in the brain. If you sleep too much during the day and not enough at night, you may also experience severe headaches in the morning. This is yet another way of your body telling you that something isn’t right.
While you may look straight to your bed to ‘relax’ when it comes to back pain, these beliefs are outdated. In fact doctors no longer remedy back pain with heading straight to bed, instead they recommend against sleeping as much as possible.
To remedy back pain nowadays, the best thing is to be more active. Loosening up your back muscles can actually alleviate more pain than simply laying around in bed. If you’re oversleeping, you may actually be inflicting more back pain on your body.
Depression is one of the more serious concerns of oversleeping. Although oversleeping is more commonly linked to insomnia, now, it is also closely linked to depression. While there are other factors that need to be in place in order to fully develop depression, it shows that 15% of people with depression sleep too much.
Many time those suffering with depression have trouble falling asleep, similar to insomnia. But once they are able to fall asleep the tendency to want to stay in bed greatly increases. Leading to a perpetual cycle of over sleeping.
The fact is that oversleeping effects the body all over the place. In a study of 72,000 women, experiment shows that women who sleep 9 to 19 hours each night were 38% more likely to develop coronary heart disease. Although the exact connection has not been determined, it is recommended to sleep no more than 8 hours each night.
This is very similar to what triggers the link between diabetes and too much sleep. There are several theories but little conclusive evidence to the exact connection. Again, the best remedy is a good and consistent schedule with enough sleep, but not too much.
Although it may seem far-fetched, all of these effects on the body can also increase death rates. It is proven that oversleeping, people who sleep 9 or more hours, have significantly higher death rates. Researchers have yet to determine an exact reason for this correlation, but higher cases of depression and lower socioeconomic status are a few factors. This means that these factors as a result of oversleeping, contribute to the increase in mortality.
How Do You Stop From Oversleeping?
If oversleeping is a relevant problem in your life, the most important thing is: how do you stop oversleeping? The first step is of course to consult your doctor. While the above mentioned information is useful, there is no way to self diagnose or self help without the proper medical opinion. So, if you feel excessively tired, notice changes in your sleep pattern, or suspect some type of sleeping disorder, talk with your doctor to determine your next steps.
Other helpful remedies include: limiting alcohol. It’s no surprise that alcohol can act as a sleep inhibitor. Drinking alcohol, especially in the evening before bed, can grossly impact your sleep schedule. Another helpful tip is to avoid becoming sleep deprived, or to maintain a consistent schedule. Specifically, this means not to accrue too much sleep debt by missing out on sleep too many times per week. If you go to bed on time and at a reasonable time for your body, you are less likely to fall into patterns of oversleeping. When it comes to sleeping, consistency is key.
Are You Oversleeping?
Tired now? If you’ve learned a thing or two about oversleeping, perhaps the most important is to listen to your body. When it tells you you’re tired, go to bed. When it tells you you’re too tired, consult your doctor. Sleep is no longer the remedy for everything, but it can increase your risk for a whole host of negative ailments.
Who knew that something as simple as sleeping could be a bad thing, but when heart disease, diabetes, and even depression are on the line, it is wise not to sleep too much. Enjoy the time you have to dream, but let all the best parts about life be when you’re awake.
Our Sleep Guide is here to help you with all your sleep needs. However, when it comes to oversleeping, or any conditions that should be determined by a healthcare professional, we recommend reaching out to the proper resources. If you have any questions that we can help you with, please feel free to Contact Us.