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What Happens When You Sleep Too Much?

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sleep science

Everyone knows that getting enough sleep at night is essential for a good health, but are there any dangers in sleeping too much, and can needing too much sleep be a sign of something else?

Hester Hammond

How much sleep is too much?

The amount of hours you should be aiming for isn't the same for everyone, but the biggest factor is age; the main other factors are your overall health, lifestyle and any health conditions that you may have. For example, if you've been particularly active, or been ill, or experienced stress, you may need more time to rest than normal.

The majority of adults need between 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night; listed below the amount of sleep hours needed at each age range:

  • Newborn (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours (including naps)
  • Infant (4 to 12 months): 12 to 16 months (including naps)
  • Toddler (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
  • Preschool (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
  • School age (6 to 12 years): 9 to 12 hours
  • Teenagers (13 to years 18): 8 to 10 hours
  • Adults (18 to 65 years): 7 to 8 hours

What causes oversleeping?

The following sleep disorders and medical conditions can cause oversleeping.

  • Idiopathic hypersomnia: or excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), causes the excessive need to sleep during the day. Usually the desire to sleep is not satisfied taking naps during the day, leading to longer sleep at night. Hypersomnia can lead to low energy levels, struggle focusing, poor memory and anxiety. People with hypersomnia may need to sleep between 10 to 12 hours.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: this condition may cause breathing to start and stop while sleeping. This can lead to sleep disruption, affecting the normal sleep cycle; people with this condition tend to extend their sleep time.
  • Depression: major depressive disorder is often accompanied by chronic fatigue and this can cause one to need to more time to rest. Furthermore, antidepressant medications can also cause greater sleepiness.
  • Medications: certain types of medications can cause drowsiness and increase our need to sleep more. Moreover, there are certain prescription that make it harder to fall asleep at night - disrupting the sleep cycle, and requiring more sleepy time.
  • Narcolepsy: this is a sleep disorder characterised by excessive sleepiness during the day with sleep attacks, and sleep paralysis. People suffering from this condition have poor REM sleep increasing their desire to oversleep.
  • Heart disease: constant fatigue may be a sign of heart disease. The heart's inability to pump blood efficiently can lead to poor circulation, low energy levels and chronic fatigue.
  • Thyroid issues: these can have negative effects on energy levels, sleeping patterns, and mood. Hypothyroidism (a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain crucial hormones) can cause sluggishness, depression and fatigue, whereas hyperthyroidism causes restlessness, irritability, difficulty falling asleep and anxiety.

Effects of oversleeping

We've all heard that sleeping too little can cause long term heath and wellbeing issues, in fact the most important thing you can do for your health is to sleep well. But oversleeping comes with it's own issues.

  • Obesity: research shows that those who regularly sleep 9 to 10 hours a night are more likely to gain weight and experience obesity.
  • Diabetes: although research has shown inconclusive results, some studies have identified an association with diabetes and oversleep among middle-aged and older women.
  • Back pain: oversleepers are more likely to experience pain and joint inflammation, specifically in the lumbar region. This is often caused by muscle fatigue which occurs when resting on your back for extended periods of time. Oversleeping on a mattress that is not supportive enough, or sleeping in an awkward position can lead to chronic back pain.
  • Headaches: sleeping longer than normal can cause hormonal imbalance which can lead to headaches.
  • Anxiety and depression: a consistent sleep schedule helps maintain hormones levels. Staying in bed longer than normal can mess up the balance that exists between cortisol, adrenalin and serotonin levels, making it harder for us to manage stress and anxiety. Over time, this imbalance can also lead to depression.
  • Heart disease: studies suggest that both men and women experiencing insufficient or excessive amounts of sleep have a greater risk for cardiovascular disease and a higher mortality rate due to heart complications.
  • Stroke: a study involving 31,750 with an average age of 63, and carried out within 6 years, showed that those who slept more than 8 hours a night were 23% more likely to have a stroke than those who slept between 7 to 8 hours.
  • Poor immune function: Sleeping for longer period of time can have impacts on the production of cytokines, the group of proteins, peptides, or glycoproteins that aid the immune system. This means that oversleeping can result in poor immune function.

Tips to help you avoid oversleeping

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: maintain a set bed time and wake up time, ensuring you get between 7 to 8 hours of sleep. This will decrease the chances of getting a hormonal imbalance, which may lead to oversleeping. Give it a bit of time, and your body will become accustomed to rest during these times, making it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up. If you're finding it difficult to get on a schedule, you could read our article on how to repair a broken sleep cycle
  • Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages after 2 p.m.: caffeine can stimulate the nervous system and make it harder for you to fall asleep. Moreover, coffee can induce sleepiness rather than wake you up, leading to daytime drowsiness. Caffeine is known to reduce the amount of deep sleep you experience, making you more likely to oversleep.
  • Create the perfect sleep space: make sure you make your bedroom as comfortable, quiet and dark as possible to promote a good night's sleep. For the utlimate upgrade to your sleep space add a knitted weighted blanket, with it's 100% cotton construction and airflow it's the best weighted blanket for hot sleepers as well.
  • Avoid any blue light exposure: in order to trigger you sleep hormone, or melatonin, you need darkness. During the day we are constantly exposed to light; therefore, the melatonin production is lower. As the sun sets, the production of melatonin increases as we are less exposed to sunlight. We become more and more tired. The blue light produced by phones, tablets, computers etc. can be prevent the production of melatonin making it difficult for us to fall asleep.
  • Keep a sleep diary: this will help keep an eye on your sleep habits and how these may affect your physical and mental health.
  • Unwind before bed: By going straight from an exciting activity to your bed you're not giving your body much of a chance to get in the right state for a great night's sleep. Try setting aside the hour before bed to read or listen to a book, or to have a chat with a friend. A weighted blanket can also be a helpful tool to boost sleepy hormones and get you in the right place for sleep.

Why do we feel tired even after 8 hours sleep?

This may happen when we haven't experienced the right amount of time in deep sleep or REM sleep. These sleep stages are extremely important in several vital functions, such as repairing muscle tissues, cleaning your brain, and reinforcing your memory. Lack of the right amount of time in these sleep stages, there's the chance that you may feel woozy even after a full night sleep.

What happens when we sleep during the day and we stay awake at night?

Calling all universtiy students during their exam periods who are planning to spend their nights in the library to complete their assessments! Sleeping during the day and staying awake at night can mess up your sleep-wake cycle and be the cause of hormone imbalance. Whenever the production of hormones becomes irregular, normal bodily functions, such as appetite, immune functions, and digestion, are disrupted too. Moreover, it can be harder for us stay alert during the day and sleep naturally at night.

Hypersomnia

If you find yourself experiencing daytime sleepiness and prolonged nighttime sleeping, you may have hypersomnia. People with hypperosmnia can also experience anxiety, low energy, loss of appetite, and poor memory. Hypersomnia can often be the side effect of another sleep disorder sleep apnea.

Do we burn calories when we sleep?

When we sleep, our bodies carry out essential functions; therefore, we burn calories. This depends on your weight and metabolism: for example, someone who weights 125 pounds burn 38 calories per hour during their sleep. Who needs the gym?

What is somniphobia?

Somniphobia, or sleep anxiety, is the intense fear of sleep or bedtime. As a consequences, people who experience this have insomnia and anxiety because people are worried about falling asleep and bedtime. They also my experience sleep paralysis and night terrors.

Conclusion

It's very tempting to get more sleep than what we actually need. However, by keeping a healthy sleep schedule, practicing good sleep hygiene, you can gain numerous benefits from a full 8 hours sleep and reduce the risk of oversleeping. If you think that your tendency to sleep more is related to more serious health problems, make sure you have a word with your doctor; they may help you create an plant to get the adequate sleep you need.

If you're looking to get a better and more restful sleep, you could see real benefits from using a weighted blanket in the evening run up to bedtime. The melatoning and seratonin released when using a weighted blanket help to get your circadian rhtyhm back on track. We've put a lot of love and effort into designing and manufacturing our blankets, and we firmly believe they are the best weighted blanket UK option. With our 30 day return policy you can try one out for yourself!

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