Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much sleep. You’ve probably heard a lot about how important it is to get enough sleep every night but not nearly as much about what happens when you get too much sleep. We’ll explain the deeper meaning behind oversleeping and why it’s important to get enough hours of sleep to keep your body healthy but not so many hours of sleep that it leads to other medical concerns.
How Much Should I Be Sleeping?
The amount of sleep needed varies greatly based on your stage of life and current health conditions. Newborns need more sleep than adults, and teenagers need a surprising amount of sleep to maintain their health and mental well-being. Let’s break it all down.
Newborns need a lot of sleep. It’s recommended that they get anywhere from 14 to 17 hours of sleep each day, though that’s usually broken up in pieces to accommodate their feeding and diaper-changing schedules.
As babies grow, they need slightly less sleep. Once they’ve reached four months old, they need closer to 12 to 15 hours of sleep per day. This will carry them through infancy and into about the 1-year age mark before they’ll age up into the next sleeping group.
Children, especially school-age children, need about nine to 11 hours of sleep per day, though it can reach up to 12 hours. In that age between infancy and school, your kids should get 10 to 12 hours of sleep per day, including their naps.
Teenagers, especially when going through puberty, will benefit from at least eight hours of sleep per night but will do better with closer to 10. Because the teenage years are a stressful time of change and trying to do it all while fitting in, this is when teens need as much sleep as their busy schedules allow.
Once you’ve hit adulthood, you need little sleep to get by. It’s recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but many people probably get less than that thanks to busy schedules. However, aiming for eight hours a night is ideal.
Seniors are recommended to get the same amount of sleep as younger adults; it’s just that they sometimes tire out more quickly or have more trouble sleeping due to aches and pains and general discomfort with laying down. However, the sleep recommendation remains the same.
The Side Effects Of Oversleeping
Oversleeping is when you’re consistently getting more than the recommended amount of sleep at night. If you oversleep from time to time, it’s probably not a cause for concern, but if you find yourself constantly needing to sleep an excessive amount of hours each day, you might have a problem. These are some of the side effects of oversleeping.
A 2008 study found that people who underslept and overslept consistently over six years gained more weight than those who slept the recommended amount each night. Those who slept more than nine hours during the study were more likely to become obese.
Pain and inflammation
Both pain and inflammation can be exacerbated by sleeping too much. Lying flat while sleeping can make your pain worse because you’re not doing anything to help your muscles and bones work the pain out. Plus, if you’re using a mattress that isn’t doing you any favors, it can make the pain worse the longer you sleep. Many studies on inflammation found that the cytokine levels in the body (which measure inflammation) were elevated in those who slept too much. Rising cytokine levels can lead to everything from diabetes to Alzheimer’s.
Risk of heart disease
A 2003 study on adult women found that those who slept nine to 11 hours per night were more likely to have coronary heart disease. Other studies have found that too much sleep puts pressure on the heart, leading to angina and reduced blood flow. That all adds up to an increased risk of heart problems.
This one is a vicious cycle. Sleeping too much can lend itself to a depressive state, yet those who are depressed sometimes sleep too much as a way to cope. If depression is already a concern, keep this in mind should you or a loved one find themselves sleeping too much.
Why Am I Oversleeping?
There are a few reasons you might find yourself oversleeping, and some of them can be chalked up to legitimate health concerns. Sleep apnea is a prime example of a reason you’re oversleeping. Sleep apnea is a sleep condition where you temporarily stop breathing in your sleep, and it can lead to a variety of problems, one of which is oversleeping. Because sleep apnea interrupts your sleep, your sleep quality is lower, and thus, you might be more tired than normal.
You may also have hypersomnia, which is a medical condition that makes it hard for you to get enough sleep no matter what you do and how many naps you take. This is one to discuss with your doctor because it’s a medical condition that can explain your oversleeping.
Anxiety and depression can also lead to excessive sleeping. When you’re stressed, anxious, and depressed, your brain and body sometimes shut down, forcing you into sleep. If you’re aware that you’re feeling anxious or depressed and, in turn, sleeping a lot, talk to your doctor.
If you find yourself sleeping a lot in general — as in, consistently sleeping much more than the recommended hours regularly — talk to your doctor, as there might be something else going on that needs checked out.
There’s a sweet spot for how many hours of sleep you need each night, and that depends on your age and lifestyle. While children need a lot of sleep, adults need far less; however, you don’t want to sleep too much because it can be just as damaging as too little sleep. If you find that you’re consistently oversleeping, chat with your doctor to find out what could be causing it.