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Oversleeping: Health Risks of Too Much Sleep

Published May 14, 2019 (Revised: May 30, 2020) Read Time: 7 minutes
Caitlin Beale

Written By: Caitlin Beale, MS, RDN

Caitlin is a registered dietitian with 9 years of experience. She holds a Master’s of Science in Nutrition as well as a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is also an ACE certified health coach.

sleeping-too-much
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Find out the risks of sleeping too much here.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2020/05/sleeping-too-much-thumbnail.jpg" } </script> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How much sleep do you need?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Our sleep needs vary based on age. Using research and expert contributions, the National Sleep Foundation published recommendations for healthy sleep ranges based on age groups. While children and teenagers tend to need more sleep (10-13 hours for preschoolers, 9-11 hours for school-aged, and 8-10 hours for teenagers), the average adult aged 18-64 needs 7-9 hours. Older adults over the age of 65 have a recommended range of 7-8 hours." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "What is oversleeping?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Oversleeping means you have rested for more than nine hours uninterrupted, and yet you still feel tired. If this sounds like you, it’s important to pay attention, as the underlying cause may mean something more significant for your health." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "What causes oversleeping?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "While it can be difficult to single out a cause, there are several medical issues associated with oversleeping. One medical reason that can lead to excessive sleep is hypersomnia. Hypersomnia is a diagnosis that means you require more sleep than the average person and or you are experiencing excessive fatigue during the day, even if you are sleeping well at night. People with this condition often sleep well at night and still feel exhausted during the day. This exhaustion can be so severe that they may need a nap even while at work." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the health risks associated with oversleeping?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Some health risks associated with oversleeping are: 1. Metabolic risks, 2. Obesity, 3. Increased mortality, 4. Mental health and depression, 5. Inflammation, 6. Brain health." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "How can you improve your sleep habits?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Here are seven tips to help you sleep better: 1. Follow the same sleep routine, 2. Find a soothing bedtime routine, 3. Exercise every day, 4. Create a calm sleep environment, 5. Avoid alcohol, 6. Find natural light, 7. Don't late-night snack" } }] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">How Much Sleep Do You Need?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">What Is Oversleeping?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">What Causes Oversleeping?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">What Are The Health Risks Associated With Oversleeping?</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">How Can You Improve Your Sleep Habits?</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>Quality sleep is a necessary part of overall wellness. But too much of a good thing—even sleep—may do more harm than good.</p> <p>It’s more widely known that lack of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/functional-strength-training/" rel="noreferrer">sleep</a> is related to chronic health conditions, including obesity, type two diabetes, and heart disease<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/chronic_disease.html" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup>. But research suggests that too much sleep is also associated with its own list of health risks<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2864873/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup>.</p> <p>Read on to learn how to recognize when too much sleep can become a problem, and what you can do about it.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <h2>How much sleep do you need?</h2> <p>If we know that the right amount of sleep is important for our health, how much sleep do we actually need?</p> <p>Our sleep needs vary based on age. Using research and expert contributions, the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.sleephealthjournal.org/article/S2352-7218%2815%2900015-7/fulltext" rel="nofollow noreferrer">National Sleep Foundation</a> published recommendations for healthy sleep ranges based on age groups.</p> <p>While children and teenagers tend to need more sleep (10-13 hours for preschoolers, 9-11 hours for school-aged, and 8-10 hours for teenagers), the average adult aged 18-64 needs 7-9 hours. Older adults over the age of 65 have a recommended range of 7-8 hours.</p> <p>The scientists who created these guidelines did state that there may be a small number of individuals who are ok with more or less sleep than the recommendations suggest. Still, the majority of us should aim for these ranges.</p> <p>Based on these suggestions, it’s clear that in addition to a lack of sleep, too much sleep—or 'oversleeping'—can be a red flag for your health.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <img style="max-width:100%;" class="img-fluid" src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/oversleeping-dangers-0165.jpg" alt="oversleeping dangers"> <h2 id="section2">What is oversleeping?</h2> <p>As seen in the above recommendations, oversleeping is considered sleeping for more than nine hours each night.</p> <p>If you occasionally sleep longer on the weekends after a late night, it's likely not a problem for your health. Also, some people may wake up in the middle of the night from insomnia or to use the bathroom, which can disrupt sleep and explain the need for more sleep.</p> <p>Oversleeping means you have rested for more than nine hours uninterrupted, and yet you still feel tired. If this sounds like you, it’s important to pay attention, as the underlying cause may mean something more significant for your health.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>What causes oversleeping?</h2> <p>While it can be difficult to single out a cause, there are several medical issues associated with oversleeping.</p> <p>One medical reason that can lead to excessive sleep is hypersomnia. Hypersomnia is a diagnosis that means you require more sleep than the average person and/or you are experiencing excessive fatigue during the day, even if you are sleeping well at night<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.hypersomniafoundation.org/classification-of-hypersomnias/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a></sup>. People with this condition often sleep well at night and still feel exhausted during the day. This exhaustion can be so severe that they may need a nap even while at work.</p> <p>There are two types of hypersomnia: primary hypersomnia and secondary hypersomnia. Primary hypersomnia (or idiopathic hypersomnia) is excessive sleepiness that is not related to any other medical condition. While the cause is unknown, it may be related to a brain abnormality or unknown infection<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/sleep/idiopathic-hypersomnia.html" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup>.</p> <p>Secondary hypersomnia occurs due to existing conditions or situations that interfere with sleep or cause tiredness during the day<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.hypersomniafoundation.org/classification-of-hypersomnias/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5</a></sup>, including<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/0301/p391.html" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup>: </p> <ul> <li>Sleep apnea</li> <li>Hypothyroid</li> <li>Neurological conditions such as Parkinson's or a head injury</li> <li>Heart disease</li> <li>Depression</li> <li>Drug or alcohol use</li> <li>Certain prescription drugs</li> </ul> <p>People diagnosed with hypersomnia also often experience anxiety or low energy due to the disruption in their lives and the persistent need to sleep<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/sleep/idiopathic-hypersomnia.html" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup>.</p> <p>But this can be complicated because excessive sleep and other conditions can be so easily tangled together. For example, if a person is <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/cashews-and-depression/" rel="noreferrer">depressed</a>, they may feel the need to sleep more, but sleeping more may also increase lethargy and depression and actually make them feel more tired<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/are-you-tired-from-too-much-sleep" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <img style="max-width:100%;" class="img-fluid" src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/oversleeping-0165.jpg" alt="oversleeping"> <h2 id="section4">What are the health risks associated with oversleeping?</h2> <p>The health risks associated with oversleeping may not necessarily be due to the oversleeping itself, but that underlying health conditions are causing the oversleeping. But whether it is the cause or the result of a health risk, there are multiple issues associated with oversleeping.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Metabolic risks</strong>. If you sleep more, you may be at an increased risk of heart disease. A study examining men and women found those who sleep ten hours or more a night had an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke as compared to those who slept seven hours<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647783/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">9</a></sup>. Oversleeping also increases your risk of developing type two diabetes<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19910503/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">10</a></sup>. <p>Adults who sleep more than eight hours a night were found to have an increased risk of strokes as well. The risk may be even higher for people who also feel drowsy during the day<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9109875/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">11</a></sup>.</p></li> <li><strong>Obesity</strong>: Oversleeping has also been connected with weight gain and obesity. One study showed that people who oversleep were 25% more likely to gain ten pounds over six years. The study also showed oversleepers had a 21% increased risk for developing obesity as compared to average length sleepers. <p>Surprisingly, the reason for the weight gain was more than just sleeping through a workout or making poor food choices as the study controlled for both exercise and caloric intake<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2279744/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">12</a></sup>.</p></li> <li><strong>Increased mortality</strong>: Sleeping too much is also associated with an overall increased risk of death, regardless of age or gender. Even when researchers examined other factors that can affect sleep or mortality risk such as stress or depression, the risk remained the same<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3755488/#R5" rel="nofollow noreferrer">13</a></sup>.</li> <li><strong>Mental health and depression</strong>: There is a close relationship between depression and sleep, but the reason is not well understood. People with depression often feel exhausted and like they need more rest<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.sleep.theclinics.com/article/S1556-407X(17)30040-1/fulltext" rel="nofollow noreferrer">14</a></sup>. One theory is that depression can alter brain chemicals in a way that interferes with normal sleep rhythms, causing you to sleep longer. People who sleep longer also tend to experience longer episodes of major depression and anxiety<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24345733/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">15</a></sup>.</li> <li><strong>Inflammation</strong>: Inflammation is a known risk factor for many chronic diseases and is also associated with oversleeping. In one study, each extra hour of sleep above the study average (7.6 hours) was associated with increases in two important inflammatory markers in the blood: C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). This could mean that if you are someone who oversleeps, simply reducing your hours of sleep can have a significant impact on bringing down inflammatory markers in the body. </li> <li><strong>Brain health</strong>: Alterations in cognition and brain health are also risks seen with oversleeping. While many of us may feel a little groggy when we first wake up, studies have shown that those who sleep more have decreased cognitive performance<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3687527/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">16</a></sup> and increased memory loss<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079936/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">17</a></sup>. Another study showed an increased risk of developing dementia<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19473367/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">18</a></sup>. It's interesting to note that the risk of developing dementia was seen in both people with too little sleep and people who oversleep.</li> </ul> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <img style="max-width:100%;" class="img-fluid" src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/getting-enough-sleep-0165.jpg" alt="getting enough sleep"> <h2 id="section5">How can you improve your sleep habits?</h2> <p>While it’s not entirely clear if oversleeping is the cause or the effect of these health risks, making sure you are getting <i>quality</i> sleep is essential to help determine if there is an underlying issue.</p> <p>Here are seven tips to help you sleep better.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Follow the same sleep routine throughout the week, including weekends</strong>: Oversleeping on the weekends can disrupt your sleep rhythms and make you feel more tired during the week. While it’s tempting to stay up late on a Friday night, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This can help your body maintain a healthy routine, especially if you are struggling with oversleeping.</li> <li><strong>Find a soothing bedtime routine</strong>: Whether it's a warm cup of tea, a bath, a good book, or relaxing music, following the same routine each evening will tell your body and your brain that it's time to start winding down. </li> <li><strong>Exercise every day</strong>: <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/weight-loss-exercise-at-home/" rel="noreferrer">Physical activity</a> promotes better sleep while improving mood and other aspects of health<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-exercise-impacts-sleep-quality" rel="nofollow noreferrer">19</a></sup>.</li> <li><strong>Create a calm sleep environment</strong>: Two keys to this are avoiding screens before bed and making sure your bedroom is cool and dark.</li> <li><strong>Avoid alcohol</strong>: While <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-sleep/" rel="noreferrer">alcohol</a> may help some people with insomnia fall asleep more quickly, it can impact the amount of deep restorative sleep you get. Alcohol can also disrupt the hormones that are released during sleep<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-2/101-109.htm" rel="nofollow noreferrer">20</a></sup>.</li> <li><strong>Find natural light</strong>: Make it a priority to get natural light first thing in the morning. Your body’s wake and sleep signals are regulated via exposure to light. Start your day with sunshine to help normalize those rhythms. </li> <li><strong>Don't late-night snack</strong>: While what we eat matters, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/time-restricted-eating/" rel="noreferrer">when we eat</a> is just as important. Studies show that eating late at night or before bed is associated with disruptions in sleep quality. Try to stop eating at least two hours before bedtime<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22171206/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">21</a></sup>.</li> </ol> <p>Similar to diet and exercise habits, making a few changes to your sleep patterns can lead to significant changes for your health. </p> <p>It may be tempting to hit the snooze button, but if you find yourself regularly needing more than 9 hours of sleep a night to function, it's time to take a closer look at what may be going on. Visiting your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions is an important consideration. </p> <p>Taking the time to practice these simple lifestyle changes will go a long way toward supporting your sleep habits. When it comes to sleep, addressing the quality of your rest is a crucial part of your wellness journey!</p> </section> </article>

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