The Dangers of Too Much Sleep

By Fiona Young-Brown

There is plenty of advice about the importance of getting eight hours if each night, and the risks of getting too little sleep. But can you have too much of a good thing? is a condition in which a person sleeps for an excessive amount of time each night—ten hours or more. It can leave you feeling overly tired during the day, needing to take long naps in addition to your nightly hours.

Hypersomnia affects 5% of the population. It is also associated with a host of other ills. If you do find yourself needing nine, ten, or more hours of sleep each day, you might be at increased risk for some more serious diseases. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, hypersomnia can result from certain medications or from underlying health conditions like . It may also be genetic. So while it may feel great to have the occasional extra hour of shut-eye at the weekend, if you find yourself constantly smacking the snooze button, you might want to discuss your sleeping habits with your doctor to see if there is an existing, treatable problem.

Here are some illnesses associated with hypersomnia:

Heart disease. According to the American College of Cardiology, the more you sleep (past eight hours), the greater your risks of angina and coronary disease. Researchers found that while getting too little sleep meant you were two times more likely to have a or heart attack, they also found that those who reported getting more than eight hours a night were two times more likely to have angina. The researchers were unsure as to why excessive sleep is linked to heart problems, or whether it could be said to be causing the problems.

Stroke. A study cited in the February 2015 issue of Neurology found that people who sleep more than eight hours per night face a 46% greater likelihood of suffering from a stroke. As with the heart disease study, this study couldn’t determine if the need for more sleep was causing the increased stroke risk, or if both the stroke and the increased sleeping were symptoms of weakening areas of the brain.

. Sleeping more than nine hours doubles your likelihood of displaying symptoms of depression, according to a 2014 study in the journal Sleep. Through studying sets of twins, researchers found that those who slept longer showed a greater proclivity towards depression. But the question of whether the sleep was causing the depression or the depression causing the sleep remained an open one.

. In 2013, Fertility and Sterility shared findings from a South Korean study of women undergoing IVF. The pregnancy rate was significantly higher in the moderate-time sleepers group than in long-time sleepers group. More research needs to be done, but it is thought that sleep patterns bring about changes in the menstrual cycle and in hormone secretions, making it more difficult to conceive.

. Sleeping more than eight hours a night is associated with developing diabetes compared with those who sleep six to eight hours a night. That was the conclusion of a six-year Quebec study reported in Sleep Med. 

. The same Canadian study also found that people who slept for longer periods each night gained more weight than their six- to eight-hour counterparts. Even when food and exercise levels were taken into account, there was a 25% higher chance that the longer sleepers would gain weight.

It turns out that many of the ills of sleeping too little are equally associated with sleeping too much!

Tags:  Depression Diabetes Hypersomnia Infertility Sleep sleep apnea sleep science Stroke Weight Gain

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