Surplus Sleep: Can You Have Too Much of a Good Thing?


Article by David Crawford | 619 words

A few months ago, Nvate explored the many different sleep cycles that a person can choose from, emphasizing that there is no one-size-fits-all pattern. In this article, we’re going to talk about an important question regarding the monophasic cycle: is there such thing as too much sleep? From a practical standpoint, sleeping too much could hinder one’s productivity. But what about from a health standpoint?

Causes and Effects of Oversleeping

Many researchers would agree that too much sleep isn’t healthy. WebMD claims that there is a link between sleeping too much and a variety of health problems. For example, depression and obesity, among other issues, may cause a person to oversleep. An article in The Washington Post, written by freelance journalist Christina Ianzito, notes a certain irony to this. She admits that while depression can be a cause of oversleeping, certain antidepressants just make a person feel even sleepier.

The effects of sleeping too much on a regular basis include headaches, backaches, heart disease and perhaps even a greater chance of dying young, as WebMD explains. The website admits, however, that there is no solid link between oversleeping and young death.

In a joint medical review by San Diego State University and the University of California, researchers Michael Grandner and Sean Drummond showed a connection between oversleeping and an increased mortality risk. The duo hypothesizes that factors behind this connection include fatigue, depression, sleep fragmentation, decreased immune function, underlying diseases such as sleep apnea, photoperiodic abnormalities (getting less light than you typically would) and an overall lack of physical and mental engagement with the world around you.

Grandner and Drummond conclude that while the factors of depression, sleep fragmentation and photoperiodic abnormalities are clearly supported by their research, underlying health issues and lack of engagement are only somewhat supported. They believe further investigation is necessary to fully delve into the causes and effects of oversleeping.

How Much Sleep You Really Need

With all these health effects in mind, how are you supposed to figure out if you’re oversleeping? The amount of sleep one needs, of course, varies. In terms of age, the National Sleep Foundation created a chart of the recommended amount of sleep a person typically needs as they grow older. claims that youngsters up to five years old may need to spend at least half the day sleeping. Children and preteens require nine to eleven hours of sleep a day, and teenagers require eight to ten hours. Finally, adults of all ages require seven to nine hours.

Sleep Diagram

WebMD notes there are a few other factors that could change the amount of sleep necessary. If you’re stressed, for instance, you may feel an increased need for sleep. However, that doesn’t mean sleeping beyond the recommended seven to nine hours is a good idea. Rather, eliminating stress by means like exercising, eating well and delegating responsibilities more wisely will help you confront your anxiety rather than take an unconscious break from it. Health conditions, including typical colds, can make some more sleep a good idea, though.

So what if you find yourself oversleeping? It’s probably time to consider what’s causing you to sleep so much. If drowsiness is a side effect of one of your medications, consider asking your doctor if there are any alternatives. Of course, cutting back on alcohol might help you get back into a regular sleep schedule as well. Do your best to have a set time to fall asleep and to wake up, which might help wire your brain to remember that particular cycle.

But before doing anything too drastic, remember that each individual is different. Be sure to consult your doctor to see if your amount of sleep is worthy of concern.

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