I talk a lot on this blog about the negative effects of getting too little sleep – the effects of sleep deprivation on your health, your mood, even your sex life. But can too much sleep (also known as hypersomnia or oversleeping) also have a negative effect?
Research has shown that too much sleep can actually increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even death – according to research reported on WebMD’s Sleep Disorders Health Center. It’s important to note, however, that confounding factors like low socio-economic factors or depression, both strongly associated with over-sleeping, can also be correlated with the same increased risks.
How Much is Too Much of a Good Thing?
The amount of sleep your body needs varies greatly with age, physical activity, emotional state, and overall health. Experts recommend that adults sleep between seven and nine hours a night, and that young children and infants get more sleep than adults. In an adult, a persistent need for more than nine hours of sleep per night could lead to a diagnosis of hypersomnia.
Hypersomnia can be an actual medical disorder – a kind of lightweight narcolepsy. Increased anxiety, low energy, and memory problems can correspond with the sleepiness of hypersomnia, but researchers are unsure how these symptoms are related to the sleepiness itself. Cause? Effect? Coincidence?
In some cases hypersomnia is linked to sleep disorders. Some sleep disorders (obstructive sleep apnea, for example, or the poorly-understood sleep disruptions that can be associated with fibromyalgia pain) can keep the brain from experiencing the deepest levels of sleep and thus lead to a need for longer periods of sleep to make up for the lack of deep stages of rest.
But hypersomnia isn’t always linked to a medical disorder, or to a mental health concern like depression. Use or misuse of drugs and alcohol can cause similar symptoms and have similar results.
Do you get enough sleep? Too much sleep? How do you tell?