Can You Oversleep Too Much?
The benefits of more sleep seems obvious, but the specifics behind what it does for us might not be as well known. We know without sleep, we feel like we are in terrible shape. And when we do sleep, it feels amazing. Let’s look into what sleep actually does for us and our health.
Why Do We Sleep In The First Place?
Sleep is homeostasis process that helps our body maintain a lot of different complex processes. In much the same way we regulate our diet, drinking, and breathing, our bodies also regulate our sleep. Although we aren’t entirely sure about every detail, as scientists are still puzzled by this mysterious biological part of our lives, we do know a few things about sleep:
- Sleep seems super important for our memory, both for consolidating short-term and long-term memory
- It plays a role in the way we learn
- Adequate sleep gives us a better mood, motivation, judgment, and how we perceive things that happen to us
- Rejuvenates our creativity and improves our creative process
- Reduce daytime fatigue and gives you more stamina to tackle your day
- Sharpen your attention so you are less prone to inattentiveness, impulsiveness, and wandering minds
- Less hunger and appetite, which means better control over your diet and, ultimately, your weight
- Reduce your stress levels, including the better controlling of your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and cortisol levels
- Reduces irritability, moodiness, depression, and anxiety
Overall, it’s a good list of benefits that come from having a good night of rest. Our bodies does a lot when we are unconscious. It prepares us for the next day by doing repairs and maintenance work while restoring our best selves, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
When we don’t give ourselves enough, many bodily, cognitive, and hormonal functions are thrown out of whack. And this can have a lot of dire consequences to seemingly simple things we do throughout our day. Some common challenges we might face from inadequate sleep, short-term and long-term, include:
- Chronic medical condition that make our lives uncomfortable and shorten our lifespan, including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, mood disorders, and heart disease
- Critical impairment leading to reduced daily performance or even disastrous accidents (think: logical reasoning, concentration, working memory, poor judgement, drowsy driving, work-related errors and accidents)
Some effects of poor quality of sleep and not having enough sleep include:
- Risk of obesity and weight gain
- Bigger appetite, especially for high caloric goodies
- Concentration challenges and becoming error prone
- Poor exercise performance including reaction times, speed, and accuracy
- A greater risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- Depression and other mental health issues
- Impaired immune functions and susceptibility to getting the common cold virus
- Increase in inflammation and cell damage
- Reduced emotional facial recognition ability, reading social cues, and the ability to interact socially
The list can go on, as the impact of sleep deprivation impacts our entire life in some way, shape, or form. This is why we need sleep, and why we have to be responsible for ensuring we get ourselves the right amount of sleep we need.
What Happens When You Sleep Too Much?
A good night’s sleep is essential and the idea of oversleeping might seem like a dream come true for some, but there is a correlation to a host of medical problems with it. Also known as hypersomnia, complications linked to this condition include diabetes, heart disease, and an increased risk of death are associated with oversleeping.
We aren’t clear whether these medical problems are a result of oversleeping or the other way around. But as the saying goes: there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Here are some medical problems linked to oversleeping:
- Low energy
- Memory problems
- Anxiety and depression
- Back pain
- Heart disease
- Suicide risk
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
For most adults, it’s been recommended time and time again that an average between 7 to 9 hours of sleep is the optimal amount. The problem is not everyone is built the same way. Some people are genetically short sleepers while others are genetically long sleepers. If we want to be fair to this difference in sleep needs, then anywhere between four to eleven hours is good.
How Much Sleep Do I Really Need?
To figure out how much sleep you actually need requires experimentation through trial and error. There isn’t any great guidelines on how best to find your sleep need. Here are a few ideas you can employ to find your right amount of sleep:
- Every 2-3 nights, lower or increase the total amount of sleep you get by 15 to 30 minutes until you reach 7 or 9 hours of sleep.
- If you weren’t able to find a comfortable amount of sleep hours between 7 to 9, go beyond that range by 1 to 2 hours.
- Keep in mind sleep cycles are approximately 90 minutes each, and you want to stay within a total time of sleep that is divisible by 1.5 hours.
- Not all sleep cycles are of equal length, which is why we test in 15 to 30 minute increments.
- Sometimes, we need 5 to 30 minutes to finally drift into sleep.
- Alternatively, find a day to wake up naturally without an alarm. The night before, write down what time you climb into bed to start sleeping.
It will be helpful to track your sleep and how you feel after your sleep over a 2 to 4 week period.. You can do so with a specialized sleep device to monitor when you go to bed and wake up, manually with a pen, paper, or spreadsheet, or with both methods. Some numbers you want to track in your sleep diary include:
- The time you go to bed and the time you wake up
- How much total sleep you got for the night
- How you feel on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best mood)
- How clear your thinking is on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most clear)
- Any other important notes that might be influencing your sleep (stress from work, family, diet, meal before bed, etc.)
After you have collected some data, you can dig through it to see what works for you. Some insights you want to experiment for and to keep an eye on include:
- The best time for you to go to sleep
- The best time for you to wake up
- How much of reduced sleep time or increased sleep time affects your mood
- How much total sleep might be best for you
- What factors affect your quality of sleep
- How your lifestyle might need changing
At the end of all this, you should have a better idea of how you might adjust and tweak your sleep so you can get the right amount for yourself.
What To Do When Oversleeping (Hypersomnia)?
It’s important to talk to your doctor if you are ever sleeping excessively or feel very tired throughout your day, regardless of the amount of sleep you arctive sleep ape getting (or not getting). It’s easy to let our sleep get the better of us, especially since it impairs our judgement and attitude towards ourselves.
There is always the possibility of an underlying sleep condition, such as obstructive sleep apnea which affects more than 22 million Americans with 80% of moderate to severe sleep apnea cases going undiagnosed.
We hope this article answers whether more sleep is better, and helps you in improving your quality of rest. Sleep takes up nearly one-third of our lives, so take good care of it; you deserve a good night’s sleep.