The modern world seems to run on less and less sleep each year.
But have you ever wondered, am I sleeping too much?
We all know that sleep is extremely important in day to day functioning. Being sleep deprived greatly reduces your cognitive capacity, decision making abilities, willpower, and self-control.
The other side of the equation, though, is getting too much sleep. Too much sleep is nearly as bad as not enough.
Let’s find out more…
How Much Sleep is Enough?
The scientific consensus is that adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.
However, within that consensus is a lot of grey area.
For example, the elderly generally need less sleep than middle-aged adults. The quality of sleep also matters significantly: eight hours of low quality sleep is not sufficient.
According to the National Institutes of Health, getting eight hours of high quality sleep increases your ability to solve complex problems by 50%.
However, according to a study done at University of California San Diego, which tracked amount of sleep with various other factors such as age, diet, exercise, health problems, smoking, and patient longevity, optimal sleep time is actually six hours.
That body of research that puts the optimum sleep time for adults at five to six and a half hours, with six hours being optimum for staving off aging-related illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
The best way to know how much sleep you should ideally get is to keep a sleep diary: track how many hours of sleep you get each night and how you feel the day after. The amount of sleep that leaves you feeling the best is how much sleep you should get each night.
How Much Sleep is Too Much?
There is much less scientific debate over how much sleep is too much. Over nine hours of sleep in one night is generally considered too much sleep.
You might end up sleeping more than nine hours in one night if you stayed up late the night before or haven’t slept well throughout the week.
There are reasons to sleep more than nine hours a night. Engaging in strenuous exercise, especially if you’re not used to it, causes you to need more sleep.
You also may need more than nine hours if you are ill or pregnant.
In general, though, if you’re leading a healthy lifestyle and have not made any significant changes, more than nine hours is probably too much.
Is Too Much Sleep Bad for You?
While it feels much nicer than not sleeping enough, sleeping too much does have negative consequences.
Oversleeping has been linked to increased risk of medical problems like diabetes, heart disease, and increased risk of death.
In the short term, oversleeping can reduce how much energy you have during the day, reduce your willpower, and increase headaches.
Here’s a great video on the dangers of too much sleep:
How to Stop Sleeping Too Much
The best way to stop oversleeping is to get sufficient amounts of high quality sleep, and the best way to do that is to have good sleep hygiene.
- Set a regular sleep schedule: go to sleep at the same time every day and wake up at the same time every day. Make sure that your schedule has you getting sufficient amounts of sleep every night. Waking up early on the weekdays and sleeping in on the weekends is an excellent way to make sure that you get lower quality sleep and thus may end up oversleeping.
- Stay away from screens for about an hour before you go to bed. Most computer, phone, and television screens emit light that confuses the sleep center in your brain into assuming it is daytime, and thus makes it more difficult for you to get to sleep, increasing the likelihood that you’ll oversleep.
- Having a regular night time routine, in addition to a sleep schedule, is a good way to make sure that you’re ready to sleep when bedtime comes. Ideally, have this routine take up the time between putting away your devices and actually getting into bed. Some good things to incorporate into the night time routine are stretches, reading a physical book, journaling in a notebook, meditation, warm baths or showers, or changing into more comfortable clothing. If you do this regularly enough, this routine will get you in a more relaxed mindset and train you to be ready to sleep by the time your routine ends.
Excessive Sleep Disorders
If you have not changed any routines lately nor have you been missing sleep, yet you oversleep or are constantly tired despite getting a sufficient night’s rest, oversleeping may be a symptom of a different problem.
Sleep apnea, narcolepsy, depression, and restless leg syndrome all have excessive sleepiness and oversleeping as a symptom.
Certain drugs, such as opioids, Benzodiazepines, some anti-Parkinson’s drugs, and some anti-seizure also have excessive sleepiness as a side effect and can cause you to oversleep. You should see your doctor if you think you are having medical issues.
Remember, when it comes to sleep, balance is key.
Eight hours a night is usually the optimum amount of sleep for most people, but there are studies showing that some do better with less.
Now you know how much sleep is too much — are you getting too much sleep?