We've always been told that we need lots of sleep...However, have you ever thought about what too much sleep can do to you? We were wondering the same question, so we decided to do our homework and get to the bottom of it 🧐.
How Much Sleep Should You Get?
Everyone's sleep needs can vary greatly, depending on age, activity level, general health, and lifestyle habits. For example, if you're stressed or are recovering from the flu, you may feel that you need even more sleep than usual. However, doctors recommend that adults get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep every night1.
Why is Oversleeping Bad?
Believe it or not, oversleeping is linked to many negative medical conditions:
- Diabetes and obesity - A recent study showed that people who slept more than 9 or 10 hours each night were 21% more likely to become obese over a six-year period than people who slept 7 or 8. Even when food and exercise were taken into account, the association between sleep and obesity remained the same1.
- Headaches - Researchers believe that sleeping too much or too little may cause headaches due to the effect that oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin1.
- Back pain - Doctors believe that people suffering from back pain should actually stay active instead of staying in bed. When trying to recover from back pain, it is not advised to sleep more than usual and to have a regular exercise routine1.
- Depression - Although oversleeping does not necessarily cause depression, it definitely does not help recovery. Roughly 15% of people who suffer from depression sleep too much. In turn, this may make their depression worse because a regular sleep habit is actually integral to the recovery process1.
- Heart disease - The Nurse's Health Study involved about 72,000 women– of these women, those that slept between 9 and 11 hours per night were 38% more likely to have coronary heart disease than women who slept 8 hours. However, researchers have not yet discovered the reason for the connection1.
How do you get the right amount of sleep?
It's recommended to cut back on alcohol or medications if they are the root of your insomnia. However, never stop taking a prescription medication before talking to your doctor! Some medical conditions may also cause insomnia such as hypersomnia and sleep apnea. Hypersomnia causes people to suffer from "extreme sleepiness," and usually cannot be relieved by napping. Hypersomnia may also cause people to sleep for unusually long periods of time during the night. Due to the constant need for sleep, people with hypersomnia may also suffer from anxiety, memory loss, and low energy. Sleep apnea is another sleep disorder that causes people to momentarily stop breathing while they're asleep. This can cause an increased need for sleep because it disrupts the sleep cycle1.
If these situations don't apply to you, it's important to practice good sleep hygiene so that you'll get your healthy seven to eight hours of sleep every night! Some experts recommend staying consistent with your sleep and wake times every day– you'll create a steady sleep schedule that your body will adapt to1. It's also recommended to avoid alcohol and caffeine near bedtime, so it does not alter the natural feeling of being sleepy and/or awake. It's also important to exercise regularly and to make sure that your bedroom is a comfortable place where you can peacefully rest. Need some more self care tips that'll help you unwind at the end of the day? Check out our blog post talking about the importance of self care!
There are also a couple tools we love using to make sure we're getting a proper night's rest. Sleep trackers can run for a few hundred dollars to upwards of $1,000. Good thing is that there are tons of apps that can make sleep tracking easy and accessible! Sleep Better is an app available on both iOS and Android. The free tier includes a sleep monitor that uses your phone's accelerometer to record your sleep quality and allows you to track light and deep sleep phases. You can also set a wake-up window based on your desired wake time, log your caffeine intake, and record your rest in a dream diary.
Now you have all the tools and information you need to ensure that you're sleeping efficiently and using sleep to help rather than harm! Have any other tips an tricks? Don't forget to share them in the comments below!