Is too much sleep bad for you? – Oversleeping Effects & Risks

Last Updated on August 10, 2021

Sleeping too much might seem like a luxury problem in a world where many of us are struggling to get enough sleep.

Actually, it isn’t. Oversleeping is similar to insufficient sleep in that it shows a lack of quality sleep. It might be related to a mental health problem. It can also be a sign that a person is having a poor sleep, and it can also be a symptom of a sleep disorder.

Many of the same health risks as sleeping too little are associated with sleeping too much, including heart disease, metabolic problems, and cognitive issues. We talk a lot about the risks of not getting enough sleep and how it can affect your performance. However, oversleeping isn’t something that should be ignored.

That’s why in today’s article we’ll discuss ‘Is too much sleep bad for you?’ and what are the effects and risks of oversleeping. 

How much sleep is too much?

Is too much sleep bad for you?

Over the course of your life, the amount of sleep you need will change, depending on your age and activity level as well as your lifestyle habits. For example, it is possible to feel an increased need for sleep during periods of stress. Experts recommend that adults should sleep between seven and nine hours a night, depending on their needs. Everything above ten hours a night is considered oversleeping.

What medical problems cause people to sleep too much?

What medical problems cause people to sleep too much?

Oversleeping is actually a medical disorder for people who suffer from hypersomnia. The condition makes people sleepy throughout the day, which is not usually relieved by sleeping. It also causes them to sleep for extended periods of time at night. As a result of their almost constant need for sleep, many people with hypersomnia experience symptoms of anxiety, low energy and memory problems.

An increased need for sleep can be a result of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder that causes people to stop breathing during sleep. That’s because it disrupts the person’s normal sleep cycle.

Some people have sleep disorders, but not everyone that oversleeps has to be associated with them. Some substances, such as alcohol and prescription drugs, are possible causes of oversleeping, as well. Also, depression is a medical condition that can cause people to oversleep. Last but not least, there are people who just want to sleep a lot. Here are the most common issues associated with people that oversleep:

Diabetes

Studies show that sleeping too long or not enough increases the risk of diabetes. More specifically, type 2 diabetes, due to issues with insulin resistance. For these problems, you should speak to a professional before you take any action.

Obesity

Sleeping too little or too much can cause you to gain weight, which can become a health issue. A recent study shows that people who sleep between seven and eight hours are less likely to become obese over the course of six years than people who sleep for nine or 10 hours every night. Even though food intake and exercise were taken into account, there was still an association between sleep and obesity.

Depression

About 15% of people with depression sleep too much, which is related to insomnia and oversleeping. If a person with depression oversleeps, their condition may worsen. Therefore, for the recovery process to work well, you must have good sleep hygiene and regular sleep habits. 

Headaches

If you are prone to headaches, sleeping longer than usual on a weekend or vacation can cause you pain. The effect on certain neurotransmitters in the brain is believed to be caused by oversleeping. Thus, people who sleep too much and don’t get enough sleep may suffer from headaches in the morning.

Back pain

There was a time when doctors told individuals suffering from back pain to head straight to bed. However, these days are long gone. If you are suffering from back pain, you don’t need to stop your regular exercise program unless you were told so by a professional. If you’re experiencing back problems, we recommend you contact a specialist. Maintaining a certain level of activity can have health benefits.

How is oversleeping diagnosed?

How is oversleeping diagnosed?

If your symptoms last more than six weeks, you should have a consultation with your doctor. At your doctor’s appointment, he or she will likely ask you questions about your sleep and lifestyle habits. You might even be asked to participate in a sleep study during your physical exam. If you don’t have other medical conditions to blame for your oversleeping, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Use the Epworth Sleepiness Scale to find out how sleepy you are. This way, your doctor will be able to see how sleep is affecting your life.
  • Have a sleep diary. Your doctor can look for sleep amounts and patterns by recording your sleep habits, such as when you fall asleep, when you wake and how often you wake up during the night. It’s a good idea to track your sleep for a week before going to see the doctor.
  • Having a polysomnogram is a good idea. You will stay in a sleep centre with an attached monitor that will measure brain activity, eye movement, leg movement, heart rate, and more.
  • Another good option is taking a multiple sleep latency test. The test is usually done after a polysomnogram. It measures the amount of sleep you get during the day (a.k.a. naps).

Treatment of an underlying health issue might help you start sleeping normally. Keep in mind that poor sleep habits may be addressed with lifestyle changes. Plus, you should speak with your doctor if there are medications that may work for you. One of the most popular medications is Modafinil (Provigil ), a wake-promoting drug. This medication was shown to improve driving performance in a study on people with scurvy.

When to see a doctor about sleeping too much?

When to see a doctor about sleeping too much?

If you find yourself tired on days after a long night of sleep, that could be a sign that you need to see your doctor. However, you shouldn’t ignore sleep problems. Sometimes it’s even possible to feel drained of energy after having too much sleep. This can be a sign of one of these conditions:

  • Anaemia –  a deficiency in the number or quality of red blood cells in the body
  • A thyroid problem – harmless goitre (enlarged gland)
  • Sleep apnea (OSA) – a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts
  • Insomnia – a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep

Generally speaking, OSA and insomnia, common among individuals with chronic diseases, may interfere with sound sleep and can worsen chronic health conditions like heart disease. Be sure to see your doctor if you wake up exhausted after oversleeping. If you are referred to a sleep specialist, he or she may prescribe a course of treatment for your specific problem. Overall, improving your chronic disease symptoms and quality of life can be achieved by treating sleep-related conditions.

Bottom line

To put it simply, not getting enough sleep and getting too much sleep can be dangerous. Therefore, if you are getting over ten hours of sleep every day and still feel exhausted, we highly recommend you make an appointment with a specialist.

Now it’s our turn to hear from you if any questions regarding the subject were left unanswered. If you want to share some information, we would gladly hear about it in the comments below.

Isabelle Harris
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