In this sleep-deprived modern age, the benefits of a good night of shut-eye are touted everywhere. Most people struggle to sleep the recommended amount of 7-8 hours, and worry that their abbreviated sleep schedule may impair their current or future health. But what about getting too much sleep?
Too much sleep has been linked by studies to numerous medical problems, including headaches, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even an increased risk of death. The limit seems to be around nine hours a night – after that, the benefits of sleep start going backwards.
Get too much sleep and you may wake up groggy and feeling hungover – and you may put yourself at risk for the following health issues:
1. Back Pain: When you are suffering from back pain, you may be tempted to lie in bed longer than usual. But what your body needs is movement. While you might want to reduce your standard exercise regimen, sleeping in may irritate your back even more.
2. Headaches: Do you wake up with a headache after sleeping in? The idea of “sleep deficits” and making up for lost sleep time on the weekend with a snoozefest has been around for years. But as you age, sticking to a set sleep schedule becomes more and more important. Oversleeping effects neurotransmitters in the brain, especially serotonin. People often find that when they sleeping in later than normal, they wake up with a headache – sometimes a migraine.
3. Weight Gain: People who sleep 9-10 hours every night have a 21 percent greater chance of becoming obese in the next 6 years. Beauty sleep has its limits.
4. Heart Disease: Oversleeping is also associated with heart disease in women. Females who sleep more than nine hours per night were 38 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease than those who stuck with a healthy eight hours.
5. Death: Numerous studies connect sleeping nine or more hours each night with significantly higher death rates. While no specific reason for this connection has been determined, it’s a good idea to limit your sleep to less than nine hours.
Many studies show that two other factors are closely associated with oversleeping: low socioeconomic status and depression. These factors may also be contributing to the connection between too many zzz’s and illness. If you are depressed or broke, you may not plan for routine doctor visits or seek the medical care you need, which can lead to increased health problems.
Of course, there are times when you need to log a few more hours of sleep: when you’re a child or teenager, when you’re sick, when you’re pregnant, when you’re jet-lagged or when you’re experiencing a great deal of stress.
But having a regular bedtime and keeping your sleep schedule to 7-9 hours is the healthiest slumber habit to have. Find the correct amount of sleep time for your body by allowing yourself to go to bed when you feel tired and wake up naturally for several days in a row (perhaps on your next vacation). Avoid alcohol or afternoon caffeine during this time period. The amount of time that you sleep is what you need on a regular basis. If it’s longer than nine hours, you may want to consult a physician.
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