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The Effects Of Oversleeping On Your Health
Believe it or not, you may want to reconsider having a sleep in this weekend. The effects of oversleeping even just by a few hours can be detrimental to your health. In fact, oversleeping has been proven to be as bad as not getting enough sleep.
Even if you only sleep for an extra hour or two more your health may suffer for it. Sleep is a huge area of research. And while we often talk about getting too little sleep, research suggests that too much sleep is just as bad. The effects of oversleeping impact your brain, body and your mind. So, we’re taking an in-depth look at the health effects of oversleeping and what you can do about it.
What is Oversleeping?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged over 26 should be sleeping seven to nine hours every night. But everyone is different. And while some studies have suggested seven hours is optimal, you may find that you need nine hours to feel well-rested. So, as long as you’re sleeping consistently for seven, eight or nine hours each night, you’re on the right track. And anything more than 10 hours sleep is oversleeping.
The Effects of Oversleeping on Your Brain
Oversleeping can start to affect your day to day memory. You may not feel as sharp as usual. Or you may feel clumsy or forgetful. More importantly, oversleeping may actually be a sign of an underlying problem. So, if you feel you need more than 10 hours sleep each night it’s time to chat with your doctor about it.
1. Cognitive Performance
Cognitive performance is all the activity that your brain does to process what is going on around you. Including your attention span, processing speed, learning, speech fluency, and memory. If you’ve ever woken up after a long sleep and felt groggy then you’ll know what impaired cognitive function feels like.
A recent study put the theory of the effects of oversleeping and cognitive function to the test. The research team is from the University College London Medical School Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. They collected data on 5,431 men and women aged 35 to 55.
The results, published in the journal Sleep, finds that between seven and eight per cent of people who slept more than six to eight hours a night score worse on memory, reasoning, and vocabulary tests than those who slept less.
2. Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
While oversleeping has been proven to impact the way your brain functions, it can also be a sign of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. A study led by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine finds adults who sleep longer than nine hours every night, consistently, are more likely to develop all-cause dementia and clinical Alzheimer’s disease.
Importantly, the study finds that long sleep duration may be a marker of early neurodegeneration. In a nutshell, oversleeping helps identify if you’re at a higher risk of progressing to clinical dementia within 10 years. So, your specialist may be able to identify Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia before memory loss even starts.
If you feel tired all the time and sleep for more than seven to nine hours a night, talk to your doctor about the cause of your oversleeping.
3. Mental Health and Depression
Oversleeping is an important sign of mental health problems or depression. While most people with depression or mental health problems suffer from insomnia, 15% sleep too much. For many people oversleeping is a coping mechanism. And treating sleep disorders is often the first course of action for people suffering from mental illness or depression.
The Effects of Oversleeping on Your Body
Even if you are only oversleeping by an hour, it may lead to a number of physical problems. The effects of oversleeping cause as much impact on your body as not getting enough sleep.
1. Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s way of fighting against harmful things in an attempt to heal itself. These include infections, injuries and toxins. And so chronic inflammation is long-term inflammation that lasts for several months or even years.
While sleep helps your body heal itself, sleeping too much may have the opposite effect. A new analysis published in Biological Psychiatry reports that long sleep duration increases markers of inflammation.
“It is important to highlight that both too much and too little sleep appears to be associated with inflammation, a process that contributes to depression as well as many medical illnesses,” says Dr John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.
Not only that but another study in the journal Sleep shows that sleep length changes your levels of cytokines. Cytokines are important in regulating inflammation. They are small proteins released by your cells. And each additional hour of sleep means an eight per cent increase in C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. And a seven per cent increase in interleukin-6 (IL-6), which are two inflammatory mediators.
So, if you suffer from chronic inflammation, practicing healthy sleep habits may make a difference. Talk to your doctor or specialist about dealing with oversleeping.
If you suffer from physical pain, the effects of oversleeping may make it worse. Back pain, in particular, may increase from spending too much time in bed. Think about when you lie down or sit in one position for too long. You may feel stiff or suffer aches when you stand up and move. Oversleeping can make your already existing pain even worse.
Back pain isn’t the only physical problem associated with oversleeping. If you suffer from headaches, sleeping longer than usual on the weekend can cause head pain. Researchers believe this is due to the effects of oversleeping on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. If you sleep too much during the day and disrupt your nighttime sleep you may also find yourself suffering from headaches in the morning.
We already know that not getting enough sleep is linked to fertility. But what you might not know is that getting too much sleep may also have an impact on your pregnancy outcome. A team of researchers analysed the sleep habits of more than 650 women before undergoing IVF. Overall, pregnancy rates were higher in the moderate sleepers than in women who clocked more than nine hours a night.
4. Type 2 Diabetes
The effects of oversleeping is also linked to the development of diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance. According to a new study in the journal BMC Public Health, more than ten hours of sleep per day is associated with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that often occur together. They increase your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Further evidence of the link between oversleeping and diabetes is in a study in Sleep Medicine. Researchers at Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine found that if you sleep too much you are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance. And the risk is 2.5 times higher if you sleep more than eight hours a night.
5. Weight Gain
It’s not surprising to see weight gain on this list. Especially as it relates to diabetes and is often a sign that you may have a sleep disorder. In fact, sleeping for more than nine hours a night, and sitting too much during the day could be a hazardous combination for weight gain. Particularly if you add lack of exercise to that mix.
Findings from the 45 and Up Study, Australia’s largest study, prove the link between the effects of oversleeping and health. The University of Sydney analysed the health of more than 230,000 participants looking at the health of our population as we age. And they found if you sleep too much, sit too much and aren’t physically active enough, you are more than four times as likely to die early as a person without those unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Not only that but another study of twins shows a link between BMI (body mass index) and long lengths of sleep. The results indicate that twins who sleep between seven and nine hours each night have a lower BMI than those who regularly sleep more per night. According to the lead author of the study, Nathaniel Watson, MD, co-director at the University of Washington Sleep Institute, in Seattle, sleep habits have a significant impact on weight and BMI.
6. Heart Disease and Stroke
The link between oversleeping and heart health is reported consistently in research. In fact, a new study even warns that oversleeping may lead to premature death.
The research, in the journal of the American Heart Foundation, finds that if you sleep for 10 hours you are 30% more likely to die prematurely than if you sleep for eight. Staying in bed for ten hours or longer is linked to a 56% increase in the risk of death by stroke and a 49% increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The AHA study examines data from 74 studies involving over three million people.
Underlying Health Effects of Oversleeping
What if you think you’re oversleeping but you’re actually not. It may seem strange but some sleep disorders can cause major disruption to your sleep without you even knowing it.
So while judging by the time you go to bed and wake up you may think you are having 10 hours sleep a night, a sleep disorder could be interrupting you hundreds of times during the night.
Snoring and sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. That’s because you may wake up hundreds of times during the night from lack of oxygen and not even know it. In fact, most people discover they snore or have sleep apnea because a family member, partner or friend notices it. So if you think you’re getting too much sleep but you still suffer from daytime sleepiness take our free sleep disorder assessment and talk to your doctor.
5 Tips To Stop Oversleeping
- Don’t oversleep on weekends. Yes, it’s tempting to sleep in or stay up late on the weekend. But try to stick to your regular sleep and waking cycle as much as possible. Even if that means setting your alarm. Consistent sleep is much better for your health.
- Avoid afternoon naps. It’s so tempting to have a nap on the weekend after a long lunch. But that innocent afternoon nap may affect what time you go to bed.
- Avoid blue light. Turn off all technology and screens 2 hours before your usual bedtime. Blue light affects your circadian rhythm and has profound effects on your health. Read a book or meditate instead.
- Get some sunlight during the day. Natural light helps your body maintain its circadian rhythm. Waking up to natural light also helps. So open the blinds before you go to bed and enjoy the morning sky.
- Eat well, drink well and get exercise. A healthy diet with limited alcohol and caffeine and regular exercise all help maintain healthy sleeping patterns. Your body will thank you for it.
If you’re still struggling with sleep it’s really important to speak to a professional about it. Sleep disorders are serious and most are very easy to treat. Call us today on 1300 246 637 or submit the contact form below for a free no-obligation chat with one of our friendly Sleep Therapists. Contact us now.
- Andrew J. Westwood, Alexa Beiser, Nikita Jain, Jayandra J. Himali, Charles DeCarli, Sanford H. Auerbach, Matthew P. Pase, Sudha Seshadri, “Prolonged sleep duration as a marker of early neurodegeneration predicting incident dementia”, Neurology, Feb 2017.
- University of Warwick. “Lack Of Sleep Doubles Risk Of Death, But So Can Too Much Sleep.” ScienceDaily, 24 September 2007.
- Claire E. Kim, Sangah Shin, Hwi-Won Lee, Jiyeon Lim, Jong-koo Lee, Aesun Shin, Daehee Kang. “Association between sleep duration and metabolic syndrome: a cross-sectional study.” BMC Public Health, 2018; 18 (1).
- Université Laval. “Too Much Or Too Little Sleep Increases Risk Of Diabetes.” ScienceDaily, 23 April 2009.
- Ding Ding, Kris Rogers, Hidde van der Ploeg, Emmanuel Stamatakis, Adrian E. Bauman. “Traditional and Emerging Lifestyle Risk Behaviors and All-Cause Mortality in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: Evidence from a Large Population-Based Australian Cohort”. PLOS Medicine, 2015; 12 (12).
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Extended Or Shortened Sleep Duration Linked To Weight Gain.” ScienceDaily, 16 June 2009.
- van Mill JG, Vogelzangs N, van Someren EJ, Hoogendijk WJ, Penninx BW, “Sleep duration, but not insomnia, predicts the 2-year course of depressive and anxiety disorders”, J Clin Psychiatry. 2014 Feb;75(2):119-26.
- Michael R. Irwin, Richard Olmstead, Judith E. Carroll. “Sleep Disturbance, Sleep Duration, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies and Experimental Sleep Deprivation”, Biological Psychiatry, 2016; 80 (1): 40.
- “Sleep Duration and Biomarkers of Inflammation”, Sleep, Feb 1, 2009.
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