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Is it possible to have too much of a good thing, when it comes to sleep? While a good night's sleep is one of the most important aspects of a healthy life, oversleeping is linked to several medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and increased risk of mortality. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to getting a sufficient amount of sleep that applies to everyone. Sleep needs are as unique as the individual. The major factors that affect the quantity of sleep you need are based on your age and the amount of physical work you do during the day. Read on to find out more about the health risks associated with sleeping too much.
The amount of sleep you need differs over the course of your lifetime. It also depends on your general health and lifestyle. For example, when you are under an unusual amount of stress or are suffering from an illness, you may need to sleep more. In spite of these factors, experts recommend that adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. However, If you get the recommended hours of sleep and still experience sleepiness throughout the day, chances are, you are oversleeping. If you regularly find yourself sleeping in and still feel tired, it is also a sign of oversleeping.
When you sleep too much, there is a disruption in the body's natural 24-hour biological cycle (the circadian rhythm), that is, the need to wake up when the sun is out and feeling sleepy when night arrives. This interference causes oversleepers to experience a number of side effects because our bodies struggle to "sync up" with the right time, causing a host of health issues including:
Oversleeping and not sleeping enough each night can increase the risk of diabetes. People with long sleep durations are more likely to develop impaired glucose tolerance when compared to people with normal sleep habits which leads to diabetes. Glucose tolerance is the body’s ability to process sugars. Impaired glucose tolerance, which is related to insulin resistance and is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Studies suggest sleeping more than the normal range affects hormones and circadian cycles, this impairs fertility in women. The study revealed that moderate sleepers had the highest pregnancy rates (53%) and those sleeping six hours or less (46%) and women who were sleeping nine to eleven hours had 43%. So sleep plays an important role in all aspects of our health.
The brain suffers the most when we function on too much or too little sleep. Cognitive performance is decreased when we oversleep. Oversleeping is also tied to increased Alzheimer’s disease risk factors. People with longer sleep durations may be at increased risk of developing dementia.
While many times it is encouraged to rest more when we’re in pain, at certain times, too much sleep can make your symptoms worse. In the case of back pain, it can be more painful when you are less active and spend much more time lying down in bed. Falling asleep in an uncomfortable position or using a worn-out or unsupportive mattress can also cause joint and back pains. When this is combined with staying still when you are asleep, you awaken with increased pain and this pain is even higher when you sleep for longer periods. You are also more likely to experience headaches usually called a “weekend headache,” because oversleeping triggers these migraines and tension headaches.
People who sleep for more than eight hours per night are twice as likely to have angina (reduced blood flow causes chest pain) and have higher risks of coronary heart disease. Analysis of a study that involved over 71,000 middle-aged women found strong relations between length of sleep and heart health. When compared to normal seven to nine-hour sleepers, women who slept for more than 11 hours per night were 38% more likely to have or develop coronary heart disease.
All of the other associated health issues like obesity, heart disease, and stroke, longer than normal sleeping also causes a higher mortality rate as a result of all these health risks. To further understand why people who sleep longer have higher rates of death in the long run, here are a few reasons:
The bottom line is that if you are oversleeping regularly your body is trying to communicate that something is wrong. Are you listening? Our internal body clock known as the circadian rhythm works best when we have a consistent sleep and wake time. Just like the many other aspects of health, moderation is key when it comes to sleep too. There are a lot of articles talking about the dangers of too little sleep, but it is important to remember that too much of it is also not good for you. So, remember to eat healthy food and stay active and get enough sleep for a healthier life.