Oversleeping: Is Too Much Sleep Harmful?


Lots of people nowadays complain about not getting enough sleep and suffer from episodes of insomnia. Like you already know, sleep is very important for the proper functioning of the body. Several studies suggest that this is the time when the body heals and restores itself. Thus, getting inadequate sleep hampers the normal functioning of the body.

While most doctors and studies focus on the repercussions of lack of sleep, there are also several people who suffer from the problem of oversleeping. As the name suggests, oversleeping is a condition wherein a person tends to sleep too much; much more than actually needed. Oversleeping also comes with its own set of harmful effects and should be dealt with and not ignored. In fact, oversleeping is now considered a serious medical condition and needs proper treatment to cure it.


What is oversleeping actually?

Every healthy adult ideally needs approximately 8 hours of sleep. However, sleep experts and researchers opine that anything between7-9 hours of sleep is perfect for a person’s general physical and mental well-being. For many people, 6-7 hours of sleep suffices, provided they can slip into a deep sleep during that period. 7 hours of sleep betters mental health and also improves longevity. Again, there are people who might sleep for 8-9 hours and still feel sleepy after waking up. This means that they do not enjoy restful sleep despite being in bed for longer hours. In many people, oversleeping might be an indication and a symptom of some kind of health disorder. It is recommended to consult a sleep specialist if something seems amiss.

Understanding oversleeping causes

Oversleeping, also known as ‘long sleeping,’ is referred to as hypersomnia, in medical terms. People with hypersomnia might need almost 10-12 hours of sleep every night to feel refreshed and rejuvenated the following day. For many people, even 15 hours of sleep may seem inadequate. Here are a few major causes of hypersomnia:

  • Depression and high levels of stress – when a person is highly stressed or depressed, they feel exhausted and fatigued to such an extent that it seems difficult to even wake up from the bed. They might also feel too lethargic and disinterested in general.
  • Substance abuse – There are some prescription drugs as well as alcohol, which cause oversleeping in some individuals. If a prescription drug is making you feel fatigued and possibly leading to oversleeping, you must consult a physician immediately.
  • Excessive fatigue – Overexertion leads to hypersomnia. This is because overexertion leads to fatigue and the body demands more sleep to recuperate from it successfully. Not getting enough and proper sleep might leave you feeling exhausted physically as well as mentally.
  • Sleep apnea – This is a very serious and debilitating breathing disorder in which a person might stop breathing from time to time throughout the night. The sleep cycle gets disrupted as a result and the individual ends up spending all night tossing and turning in bed and waking up tired as a result. To make up for the lost sleep, people who suffer from sleep apnea sleep longer during the day, leading to oversleeping. Unlike most other sleep disorders, sleep apnea may need medical intervention.
  • Poor sleeping schedule – There is an internal biological clock that your body follows. Sleeping and getting up at definite times are part of that schedule. People who follow the schedule closely get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. However, with a poor sleeping schedule, one might suffer from insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Thyroid and heart diseases – Medical conditions like heart and thyroid diseases also cause that lead to oversleeping in some people. It is recommended to take proper medications for the problem and follow instructions and restrictions that the specialist doctor prescribes to avoid the excessive sleep issue.

Oversleeping symptoms

There are some very clear symptoms which are associated with oversleeping. Some of them include:

  • Sleeping for long hours on a regular basis – The most prominent symptom.
  • Lingering headache – People who oversleep regularly generally have a mild lingering headache the next day.
  • Mild depression – Mild depression is a prominent symptom of oversleeping. This is a double-edged sword, in the sense that, while oversleeping might cause mild depression, depression might also cause oversleeping in many people.
  • Fatigue – Having a sense of fatigue and exhaustion throughout the day is a sure sign of fatigue. A sense of dullness and listlessness prevails with oversleeping.
  • Lack of concentration – Oversleeping leads to a lack of concentration. This also stands true for lack of sleep. Both insomnia and hypersomnia cause a lack of focus and concentration.

Effects of oversleeping

Oversleeping side effects are many and need proper attention before the problem becomes truly grave. Some of them include:

  • Heart disease – Like heart disease is a cause of oversleeping, the reverse is also true. People who oversleep have 38-40% have a higher risk of contracting coronary heart diseases over time.
  • Weight gain and obesity – When you oversleep, it is obvious that the body is at rest for much longer periods than it actually needs. The energy which is gained is not utilized by the body for doing various kinds of activities. This energy gets reserved as fat and leads to weight gain, and in turn, obesity. The fat does not get a chance to be expended with oversleeping.
  • Back pain – This is quite sad to know that oversleeping can lead to back pain, and severe ones at that. Generally, people who suffer from back pain are asked to be mobile and move around as much as possible. Get up from the bed and get active to stay away from back pain.
  • Headaches – Headaches are quite common in people who oversleep. This happens because REM sleep has effects on the neurotransmitters in the brain. REM state sets in towards the last phase of sleep – before waking up, to be precise. The longer you sleep, the longer is your REM sleep time. On the other hand, dehydration also contributes to headaches.
  • Diabetes – One prominent side effect of oversleeping is diabetes. 50% of people who have been tested for oversleeping were found to be diabetic. In fact, the chances of getting diabetes increase in people who oversleep.

Oversleeping is a serious medical condition that needs to be treated. Do not neglect the problem; it is recommended to get proper treatment at the earliest.

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