How Much Sleep is Too Much Sleep?

Apr 21, 2016

How Much Sleep is Too Much Sleep?

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The Dangers of Sleeping Too Much

While many people struggle to get enough sleep, others find exact the opposite to be true. Sleeping beyond the recommended 7-9 hours can actually have a range of negative health consequences for seniors. This seems counterintuitive compared to how beneficial sleep is for an aging brain, yet studies continually reveal evidence of oversleeping’s harm.

Not only can getting too much sleep affect your health, but it can also indicate an underlying medical condition.

Possible Risks of Oversleeping:

  • Obesity - In a recent study, it was found that 21 percent of people who slept over 9 hours a night had a higher risk of obesity over a six-year study period. These findings also revealed that people sleeping less than the recommended amount tended to gain weight as well. It’s important to understand that oversleeping can create compounding health issues, so one may lead to another if left unchecked.
  • Heart Disease - Over leepers are reported to have a 10 percent higher chance of coronary artery disease. Additional heart problems are also more likely to arise as a result of getting too much sleep. It is still unclear whether sleeping too much causes more heart problems, or that cardiovascular conditions demand more sleep. However, we can be confident in realizing that too much or too little sleep affects the body in similar ways. 
  • Diabetes - Another major risk associated with oversleeping includes an increased risk of developing diabetes. Again, too much or too little sleep has direct affects on our body’s ability to process sugars and impairs glucose tolerance, often leading to type 2 diabetes. Canadian studies found that out of 276 people observed over the course of 6 years, a significant amount of them were at risk of developing diabetes due to their sleeping habits.

Other Conditions from Oversleeping:

Oversleeping can have a significant effect on cognition and our overall mental health. Most of the time, healthy sleep patterns will remove the buildup of natural neurotoxins and reset the balance of our brains. When these patterns carry on longer than they should, problems can arise in various ways.

Cognition in general, the sharpness of thought, and our memory can all suffer from an excess of sleep.

A sizable Spanish study also found that over-sleepers might be at greater risk of developing dementia. Considering that people with dementia often have trouble maintaining proper sleep schedules, these findings seem to reveal a slippery slope.

With about 15 percent of people who are depressed tending to oversleep, the concern is that one condition blends and contributes to another. Too much sleep causing dementia, leading to insomnia and back around again to cause depression; these issues just seem to compound and grow into bigger problems.

Formulating a Life of Sleeping Right

Getting the right amount of sleep is about finding a formula that works for you. It’s generally advised to avoid caffeine hours before sundown. Other substances like alcohol or nicotine can also affect the way that your body utilizes what sleep you get, so avoid those as well.

Setting your schedule up so that you can fall asleep at similar times each night is a great way to stabilize your sleeping patterns. Throw consistent exercise into the mix and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy sleep cycle.

Many people today are using dawn light alarm clocks, which fill your room with a gentle light before the signal to wake. This may help your body adjust to a proper waking time more consistently and help you avoid excessive slumber.

Whatever your condition may be, it’s essential to get just the right amount of sleep in order to avoid any increased risks to your health and wellbeing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I just turned 63 and I can’t seem to fall asleep or stay asleep as well as I used to. Do you have any recommendations for what I can do to treat this that doesn't involve medication?

Sleep disorders are a common problem in elderly adults. To help combat this issue, most doctors will recommend a number of treatments. Here are a few: avoid large meals before bedtime, avoid stimulants starting mid-afternoon, do not take naps, patriciate in regular exercise, have a consistent bedtime schedule, and avoid using the bed for things other than sleep and sexual activity. 

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Our grandmother’s assisted living home recently told us that she is waking at night and having intense night terrors. What is the cause of this?

Oh my! It’s possible she might be suffering from a REM sleep disorder, something that causes people to act out their dreams. Although this is very rare, such sleep disorders may also cause intense and terrifying experiences at night. In some cases, people can become violent, kicking and flailing in their surroundings. It’s best to consult a professional before making any changes, but there are some medications that can be useful!

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