With nearly 70% of Americans struggling with insomnia and sleepless nights, it’s hard to imagine that more sleep could be a bad thing. But, is there such a thing as too much sleep?
As with all things in life, moderation is key. Just as we can develop health issues from a lack of sleep, we can also suffer – both physically and mentally – from too much sleep.
In a world full of late nights, jet lag, high stress, and burn-out, having the occasional sleep-in won’t completely throw your body off. Most of us are sleep-deprived and overworked. Sleep allows us to recuperate from irregular schedules and our hectic daily lifestyle.
But chronically spending too much time in bed might have some negative consequences. Let’s learn more about the science of sleep, understand how too much sleep is a bad thing, and learn how to find a better balance.
Why Do We Oversleep?
Sleeping for long hours isn’t always by choice. Sometimes there are other factors at play that determine how long we lounge.
We’re playing catch-up - For most people, an unbalanced work and rest cycle is just part of life. We work hard, play hard, and often rest comes secondary. After a while, our bodies plead for rest – but sometimes too much. We end up getting in the habit of “catching up” and find ourselves sleeping later and later when what we really need is a balanced schedule.
We’re unaware - If you don’t have a set schedule or regular bed/wake time, you might be unaware of how many hours you’re really getting. Most of us assume we’re tired because we aren’t getting good enough sleep, but it might be just the opposite.
We’re fighting a bigger fight - Sometimes it’s actually not about the sleep. Certain medical conditions make us tired and our bodies need more rest to heal. Medications can cause sleepiness and drowsiness that’s hard to beat. Issues like depression, anxiety, and grief can cause us to sleep more. A serious illness, delivering a baby, a difficult life change, or even a history of overdoing things might lead us to start sleeping longer.
When More Is Less
We all like to lay in on the weekends or catch up with some extra hours after a long trip or busy week. Occasional sleeping-in is no big deal – you should listen to your body and take some extra rest when you need it!
However, consistently sleeping more than 9 hours is considered too much sleep. This can depend on your age, health condition, and lifestyle, of course, but there does seem to be a sweet spot for the number of hours we should be sleeping to get the most out of our shut eye.
Sleeping more than 9 hours daily (or even several times a week) can impact many areas of your health.
Impaired brain health and cognition
Sleeping too much has been linked with memory impairments, brain fog, and a propensity to degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Scientists have also found that sleeping late is linked with persistent depression and may inhibit our efforts to overcome depression and anxiety.
Staying in bed for more than nine hours might be making your inflammatory conditions worse. Oversleeping is linked to increased issues with pain, arthritis, diabetes, heart conditions, and more.
Increased weight gain
While enough sleep is required to keep our digestive systems working well and our metabolism up, sleeping too much might throw a wrench in it all. Sleeping less than five or more than nine hours is linked with gaining weight and obesity.
Overall, too much sleep has been linked with issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, depression, and a general poor quality of life.
Does too much sleep really make us sick?
Is it really those extra hours in bed causing our health issues? While they may play a part, we need to look at the bigger picture. When we sleep more, we avoid the other aspects of life that help to prevent illness and foster health. We tend to exercise less, snack more, crave sweets, socialize less, have a weaker immune system, feel more depressed, and take on fewer challenges. All together, these factors add up to a higher likelihood of illness and a poorer quality of life.
First things first…let’s tackle the sleep!
How Much Sleep Is Best?
While there has been debate amongst health professionals and researchers over how much sleep is best, most agree that we should aim for somewhere between 7-9 hours.
During sleep, our bodies have the chance to repair, restore, and recuperate. We solidify connections in the brain that translate to memories, learning, and neural connectivity. We fully digest food and detoxify. We strengthen our immune system. We need good quality sleep to protect our brains, maintain good mental health, stay fit and strong, and even to improve our longevity.
Having a regular sleep schedule that provides for about 7 to 9 hours of quality rest per night has been deemed the most effective way to beat fatigue and stay healthy.
Our Tips To Get Your Sleep Ratio Right
The funny thing about sleeping too much is that we rarely feel more rested or energized after sleeping more than 9 hours. In fact, we may even feel more tired, drowsy, or foggy headed after a long sleep than if we had aimed for a more average snooze of seven hours.
So, how can we ensure that we get the best ratio of sleep for us? At Bearaby, we like to follow a few simple sleep hygiene tips and sleep hacks to make the most of our snooze-time.
- Set a schedule and stick to it! This might mean waking up drowsy and cursing your alarm for a few days (or even weeks) but this will set your circadian rhythm right.
- Plan your mornings. It’s easier to get up when you have something to be up for. Schedule an enjoyable task to do each morning upon waking. Set out a favorite book, a yoga exercise, or special breakfast that will lure you out of bed.
- Value quality sleep over quantity of sleep. The best way to make the most of fewer hours is to sleep soundly through them. Undisturbed sleep refreshes your brain and gives you energy. Weighted blankets are a great way to slip into sound sleep quickly and stay asleep through the night.
- Don’t snooze the alarm. We’re all guilty of this once in a while, but snoozing the alarm has shown to cause more fatigue, mood swings, and brain fog than just getting up at the first ring.
- Reserve the bed for sleeping to improve your sleep efficiency. Avoid reading, working, scrolling, or watching TV in bed.
Find Your Happy Medium
The Bearaby team loves to sleep, snooze, nap – you name it. If it involves being tucked in, cozy under a weighted blanket and left to our dreams, we’re happy. But we’re also big fans of moderation. Finding the perfect sleep schedule for you will transform your life and lead to healthier, happier days. Aim for those 7-9 hours of shut eye and live the rest to the fullest!
Is There Such Thing As Too Much Sleep?
Let’s learn more about the science of sleep, understand how too much sleep is a bad thing, and learn how to find a better balance.
Too much sleep can be as detrimental to your health as too little. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
Use a weighted blanket to fall asleep fast and stay asleep all night. You’ll be ready to take on the day after a good 7 hours.
Balance activity and rest in your daily life. An active and vibrant day will make climbing into bed that much sweeter.
Did you know?
It’s perfectly healthy for a koala to sleep 18-22 hours per day?