When it comes to sleep, can you have too much of a good thing?
The answer is yes as oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including diabetes and heart disease.
So how much is too much? The amount of sleep you need varies significantly over the course of your lifetime. It depends on your age and activity level as well as your general health and lifestyle habits.
For instance, during periods of stress or illness, you may feel an increased need for sleep. But although sleep needs differ over time and from person to person, experts typically recommend that adults should sleep between 7-9 hours each night.
For people who suffer from hypersomnia, oversleeping is actually a medical disorder. The condition causes people to suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day, which is not usually relieved by napping. Many people with hypersomnia experience symptoms of 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. And then there are people who simply want to sleep a lot.
So what are the risks to your health?
Diabetes: Studies have shown that sleeping too long or not enough each night can increase the risk for diabetes.
Obesity: One study showed that people who slept for nine or 10 hours every night were 21 percent more likely to become obese over a six-year period than were people who slept between seven and eight hours.
Headaches: For some people prone to headaches, sleeping longer than usual on a weekend or vacation can cause head pain. People who sleep too much during the day and disrupt their night-time sleep may also find themselves suffering from headaches in the morning.
Depression: Although insomnia is more commonly linked to depression than oversleeping, roughly 15 percent of people with depression sleep too much.
Heart disease: The Nurses’ Health Study showed that women who slept nine to 11 hours per night were 38 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease than women who slept eight hours.
Experts recommend keeping the same bed times and wake times every day. They also recommend avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime. Exercising regularly and making your bedroom a comfortable environment that’s conducive to sleep will help you get the amount of sleep you need.