Getting the right amount of sleep can be difficult for many people, yet it is crucial to living a happy, healthy life. Sleep deprivation, or not getting enough sleep, has a long list of detrimental effects on your body and mind, making it more difficult to go about your day, and live a healthy life. However, what many people might not be aware of is that sleeping too much can be just as bad for your health. It’s important to get enough sleep, but not overdo it and sleep too much, which is why sleep duration is key to a happy mind and body.
So how much is too much sleep? What is sleeping too much, what are the causes, warning signs, and what are the impacts that longer sleep has? In this article, we will answer all of these questions, and explore what it means to get too much sleep.
What is Sleeping too Much?
Sleeping too much is when you are getting an excessive amount of sleep, i.e., more than you need. While excessive sleeping may be appropriate when you are recovering from an illness or an injury, regular excessive sleeping may be a sign of a mental health disorder, sleep health disorder, or other health issues.
Sleeping too much is usually defined as oversleeping. Oversleeping is generally characterized by longer sleep, or sleeping more than 9 hours in a 24 hour period. Most healthy adults require 7-9 hours of sleep every night, so if you are sleeping more than 9hours, it could indicate a problem.
Getting a good night’s sleep promotes a healthy life and mental alertness, along with a host of other benefits. On the other hand, not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health, and leave you feeling groggy and sluggish. Too much sleep, however, can also negatively impact your health.
What are the Causes of Sleeping too Much?
There are several culprits that can cause you to sleep too much. These include:
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that causes brief lapses in breathing while sleeping. These lapses in sleep may cause loud snoring, choking, or gasping that causes affected individuals to wake up, disrupting their sleep and sleep health. In addition, even if the you do not wake up during sleep with this condition, your sleep quality is still reduced, resulting in daytime tiredness, and a desire to get more sleep.
Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder where the brain cannot properly control the sleep and wake cycles. Individuals with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness, and as a result may fall asleep during the day, even when doing normal activities like driving.
Hypersomnia is the catch-all medical term for oversleeping paired with excessive daytime sleepiness. Just like insomnia (sleeplessness), hypersomnia is a sign of disordered sleep.
The side effects of hypersomnia (namely, daytime sleepiness), cannot be fixed by napping. Hypersomnia may cause anxiety disorders, memory problems, low energy, and, of course, daytime sleepiness. You may be diagnosed with hypersomnia when your excessive sleep patterns cannot be explained in any other way.
Experiencing chronic pay can be a tiring and harrowing experience, leading one to seek respite with sleep, potentially resulting in oversleeping. While sleeping may feel like a solace for someone affected with chronic pain, it is not doing you any favors, and may even be making things worse.
Depression is one of the most common causes of oversleeping. Depression can cause you to feel overly tired, and have low energy, resulting in a need to sleep more.
Drinking alcohol is another common cause of oversleeping. Alcohol is known for causing sleep disturbances, and can negatively impact sleep patterns, and cause daytime sleepiness. Drinking alcohol, regardless of how much or little, can negatively impact your quality of sleep. In addition, alcohol can promote sleep disorders like snoring and sleep apnea.
Some medications may cause individuals to feel more tired and drowsy more often. This results in wanting to sleep more, and oversleeping in general. If you think you are oversleeping due to your medication, speak to your doctor.
There are many causes of sleeping too much; however, some other common causes include obesity, epilepsy, and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s’ disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries, and more.
Someone may be experiencing a high sleep duration, not due to any mental or physical problems in their body, but it could be something in their environment. If something in the environment is disrupting your sleep, it can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, and cause you to oversleep.
Environmental factors that can disrupt sleep include:
- Temperature: Sleeping in temperatures too hot or too cold may disrupt sleep. Aim for something around 65 degrees Fahrenheit for quality sleep. Also, make sure you aren’t overdoing it with the blankets, and waking up sweating in the night, or using too few, and shivering throughout the night.
- Uncomfortable mattress: A mattress that is not suited to your body can make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Make sure your mattress is just right for you. Everybody is different, and may require a mattress with a different firmness or softness to suit them, and a different material that promotes good sleep. Here at PlushBeds.com, we have a variety of comfortable, quality mattresses that could be just right for you.
- Noise: Excessive noise when you are trying to get to bed can make it difficult to fall asleep. Moreover, it can wake you up at night, and ruin your sleep. Whether it is a boisterous family, loud roommates, a noisy street, or music coming from a nearby apartment, loud noise can prevent you from getting productive sleep. If asking the culprits doesn’t work, or doesn’t apply, try getting a white noise machine, or downloading an app on your phone to help you sleep.
Warning Signs You are Sleeping too Much
Sleeping too much may look a little bit different for everyone. Technically, oversleeping may be defined as regularly getting 9 or more hours of sleep every night. It is usually not that black and white. This is because everybody needs a different amount of sleep, depending on their age, lifestyle, genetics, and more.
For example, when you’re still a growing teen, you may need up to ten hours of sleep every night to feel rested, but when you reach your 20s, seven hours might be just what you need. Then as you age into your 50s and 60s, you may start sleeping more once again, and reach up to nine hours of sleep every day. Therefore, pinning down whether the sleep duration you’re getting is too much can be very circumstantial; however, here are some signs to help you identify if you are sleeping too much:
Daytime sleepiness is the biggest sign that someone is sleeping too much. If you are in bed for an above-average amount of time, and still feeling excessive daytime sleepiness, it may be indicative that you are sleeping too much. In other words, if you are getting more than enough sleep, and are still tired, it may be because you are oversleeping.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are common effects of oversleeping. If you are sleeping more in order to escape anxiety and depression, or if your oversleeping is causing you to be more anxious and depressed, then it could be a good sign you are sleeping too much.
Irregular Sleep Patterns
Irregular sleeping patterns and poor sleep habits may be a sign that you are oversleeping. If longer sleep is causing a person to wake up later, and then stay up later, it may be worsening the problem, and causing them to sleep in longer.
How Much Sleep is too Much?
As mentioned above, too much sleep looks different for everybody. Age is one of the biggest factors in determining the appropriate amount of sleep for any given person. Here is a sleep breakdown from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of how much sleep a person should be getting according to their age:
- 0 to 3 months - 14 to 17 hours
- 4 to 12 months - 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
- 1 to 2 years - 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
- 3 to 5 years - 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
- 6 to 12 years - 9 to 12 hours
- 13 to 18 years - 8 to 10 hours
- 18 to 60 years - 7 + hours
- 61 to 64 years - 7 to 9 hours
- 65 + years - 7 to 8 hours
As you can see, how much sleep you need depends greatly on your age group. These numbers may vary slightly by experts, but they usually hover somewhere around the figures above.
This data can help you figure out how much sleep is too much. For example, if a person is 15 years of age, and sleeping 12 hours a day, this may be too much. Whereas it is okay for a ten-year-old. Furthermore, the figures for people between the age of 18 to 60 years of age is a little bit more flexible. Whereas some sources say anything over 9 hours is oversleeping, this data allows for some more flexibility for that age range, as a variety of factors can influence sleep.
In addition to age, genetics is a factor that can help determine whether or not someone is oversleeping. This is because our genes can affect our circadian rhythms and internal sleep. For example, sleep studies have shown that some people with a specific genetic mutation require significantly less sleep to feel rested.
Furthermore, activity level plays into how much sleep you need. If you are very active, you may need to sleep more than when you are inactive. This goes hand in hand with lifestyle: if you are completely inactive, you may be oversleeping because you are living an unhealthy lifestyle, and this may be worsening any underlying mental and physical health issues. Think of it this way: if you are mostly sitting all day, your body shouldn’t really need to sleep that much because of how little you are exerting yourself, but if you find yourself oversleeping anyway, it may be a sign that you are sleeping too much.
Therefore, take a look at your lifestyle and the information discussed above into account. You can even factor in recent life changes, as that may also affect your sleep. Additionally, identifying whether this is a one-off situation, aka, a two-day stretch after a long hiking trip or bad breakup for example, or if it is something regular that has been going on for a longer period of time, will help you better understand if you are sleeping too much.
How is Oversleeping Diagnosed?
Oversleeping is diagnosed when someone is consistently sleeping more than (about) 10 hours a day, and there is not an extenuating circumstance, i.e., recovery from an illness or injury. Once a healthcare professional diagnoses oversleeping, they will try to figure out the cause of oversleeping. It may be any of the causes that we talked about above, or a combination of one or more of them. If a direct cause cannot be determined, then you may be diagnosed with hypersomnia.
Once the diagnosis and cause of oversleeping are set, your doctor may go over options with you to try and resolve the issue. For example, if they think it is your medication, they may take you off of it, or switch you to a different medication. If alcohol is thought to be the cause then they will try to help you stop drinking to improve the quality of sleep, and so on.
What are Other Impacts of Sleeping too Much?
There are other factors that may be contributing to sleeping too much besides the ones (sleep disorders, environment, chronic pain, alcohol, medications, etc.) discussed earlier.
Short and long sleepers are both more likely to become obese. In one 10-year follow-up sleep study, women who regularly overslept were four times more likely to become obese than those who had regular sleep habits.
While undersleeping can cause people to develop headaches, oversleeping can cause or worsen headaches as well. Chronic migraines and headaches can disturb sleep along with the overuse of medications used to treat these problems. Affected individuals may use oversleeping as a way to cope with the problem; however, this may worsen the problem by further disturbing sleep, causing oversleeping the next day, sleep debt, and potentially worsening the headaches overall.
Undersleeping and oversleeping may increase your risk for diabetes. Studies have shown that people who sleep over 9 hours each night, also known as long sleepers, are at a higher risk for developing diabetes than those who get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Depression is both a cause and symptom of oversleeping. Depression can leave individuals with low energy and sleepiness during the day, causing them to sleep more, but sleeping more can also worsen the depression.
Long sleepers may experience back pain as a result of oversleeping. Lying in bed for hours (especially if you have an unsupportive mattress) can worsen or cause new back pain to develop.
Risk of Heart Disease
Sleeping too much increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease compared to those with healthy sleeping habits.
Risk of Higher Mortality
Excessive sleep has also been associated with an overall higher mortality rate. In other words, getting too much sleep increases a person’s risk for all-cause death. However, this correlation may in fact be due to other conditions that are impacted by oversleeping, such as those cited above.
Tips to Avoid Sleeping too Much
Now that we’ve talked about all of the causes and impacts that oversleeping has, let’s talk about how you can avoid sleeping too much. There are steps you can take to make sure you don’t begin oversleeping, or continue to develop poor sleeping habits.
- Talk to your doctor. If you are worried about oversleeping, or your bad sleeping patterns or sleep habits, speak to your doctor. You may be unaware that the medication you are taking is causing you to oversleep, or there may be an easy fix that your doctor can help you with. Whatever your situation, the first and best step you can take is speaking with a medical professional.
- Set a sleep schedule. Plan out when you think you should go to bed and wake up, and try your best to stick to it. This may be difficult at first, but it may significantly improve your quality of sleep. Sticking to a sleep schedule helps to condition your body to fall asleep and wake up at a certain time, and keeps your circadian rhythm happy and consistent. Try a new alarm clock if you have trouble waking up in the morning.
- Consider your lifestyle habits. Think about your lifestyle and consider where there is any room for improvement. Do you need more exercise? Do you have enough hobbies? Are there any bad habits you have that may affect your sleep?
- Improve your sleep environment. As discussed above, having a bad sleep environment may be contributing to oversleeping. Make sure you have the right mattress, comfortable pillows, and blankets, also adjust the temperature accordingly, and make sure there are no other disturbances like noise.
- Limit your screen exposure before bed. Screens from your phone and computer emit blue light. Blue light can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, and make sleep more difficult. Power down your devices long before you go to bed, ideally two to three hours. Try replacing your time spent on your phone or computer before bed with something else like reading. If you cannot totally eliminate time spent looking at screens, adjust the brightness or install an app that minimizes the amount of blue light emitted (sometimes known as night mode).
Getting the Right Mattress
As mentioned, fixing your oversleeping pattern may be as simple as getting a new mattress. If you are getting light sleep, or waking up in the night because you are uncomfortable, and then making up for it by oversleeping, it may mean you need a better mattress.
Visit plushbeds.com, and browse our wide variety of organic, latex mattresses that promote superior comfort, support, and sustainable sleep. You can customize your mattress by selecting by mattress thickness and firmness. Our mattresses are handcrafted in the US with the finest quality GOLS certified organic latex, GOTS certified organic cotton, and GOTS certified organic wool. Plushbeds latex mattresses also come highly recommended by orthopedic specialists and chiropractors for their luxurious customized comfort, soothing pressure relief, and superior support. Plus, you can try any mattress free for one hundred nights!
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