15 January 2019

Is too much sleep harmful?

We live in a screen-addicted, highly caffeinated society, where many people struggle to get enough winks in. In a world where so many of us are struggling to meet the 7-9 hour sleeping guideline, the issue of sleeping too much might seem like a bit of a luxury problem.

We all enjoy a lie in every once in a while. However, sleeping excessively is linked with many of the same health risks as sleeping too little, but what are they? Let's explore some of the biggest culprits….

Heart disease

Sleeping for more than six to eight hours a day (including naps) is linked to a higher risk of death and cardiovascular disease, according to a large study published in the European Heart Journal on December 5, 2018.

Diabetes

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that sleeping too much may also increase the risk of getting the disease.

Memory loss

Researchers in the United States discovered that people who consistently slept for more than nine hours each night were double as likely to develop Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia over the next 10 years as those sleeping nine hours or less.

Headaches 

 For some people prone to headaches, sleeping longer than usual on a weekend or vacation can cause head pain. Researchers believe this is due to the effect oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged over 26 should be sleeping seven to nine hours every night.  Hypersomnia is the clinical term for excessive sleeping and excessive sleepiness during the day. Like its counterpart insomnia, hypersomnia has several core symptoms:

  • Sleeping for extended hours at night (typically well beyond the 7-8-hour general norm)
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning (including sleeping through an alarm)
  • Trouble rising from bed and starting the day
  • Grogginess on and off or consistently throughout the day
  • Trouble concentrating

It looks as though you really can get too much of a good thing!

If you think you’re sleeping more than you should be, make sure you seek medical advice. Your doctor will need to check whether your oversleeping is caused by an underlying medical condition or whether you need to be taken off any medications you might be taking.

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