By Rich Carroll
There are many different reasons why people have sleep issues. Typically people don’t get enough sleep, and even though it is well-known sleep is essential for good health, many people think that they get enough sleep when in fact they are sleep deprived. Then there is much less common side of sleep; that is, people who for one reason or another get too much. This can cause a variety of medical issues, and it is even thought to increase the risk of death.
When we examine whether people can actually die from excessive sleep, there is an additional factor to think about. We know of two things that are strongly associated with people who get too much sleep, and they are depression and low socio-economic status. These two factors strongly influence many negative health issues, such as heart disease. So those may be a greater cause for mortality than actually over-sleeping.
So just how do we define what too much sleep is? We can give a general definition of anything over nine hours a night if done on a long-term basis. It is recommended that the optimal amount of sleep per night that a person should get is between seven and nine hours. And certainly on a short-term basis over nine hours might not be bad. If the person is experiencing stress or illness or maybe just going through exhaustion sleeping for a longer time can be quite restorative.
Excessive sleep has been linked the following medical problems:
1. Back pain. The human body was not meant to remain in the reclined position for long, extended periods of time. It was once prescribed for back pain sufferers to go to bed and relax. Now it is well-known that physical activity, even on a reduced scale, is better for back pain than more bed-rest.
2. Obesity. Sleeping is a restorative time for our body, but for nearly all people who doesn’t continue to be the case after seven to nine hours of sleep. Studies have shown that when people’s sleep for over ten hours every night over a long period of time they were found to have a 20% greater chance of obesity.
3. Headaches. For many people who sleep too much is seen to affect certain neurotransmitters in the blood brain, such as serotonin.
4. Diabetes. Sleeping too long at night can also increase the risk for diabetes, studies have shown.
5. Heart Disease. The research hasn’t yet identified the reason for the connection between heart disease and excessive sleep, but a test of over 70,000 women who slept about 10 hours a night were 38% more likely to have heart issues.
6. Depression. Most people with depression don’t sleep enough, but there are a few who are clinically depressed that sleep too much.
With any of these studies it’s hard to say whether too much sleep causes the problem or that they have medical issues that cause them to sleep too much. The importance point is that for many people excessive sleep on a regular basis is not healthy. There are often under lying medical conditions that are causing the disorder, and anyone with the issue of over-sleeping would be wise to consult a physician.