Too much sleep

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Too much sleep is bad for your health

Too little sleep and tiredness are common health problems these days. But there are also people who sleep excessively. Some of them wake up feeling tired or unrefreshed. This is called hypersomnia. Have you ever felt groggy and lethargic after you slept longer than you needed to, while after eight hours of sleep you felt like you can take on the world? Probably!

We all know sleeping too little can harm our health. But oversleeping isn’t good for you either. People who sleep for more than eight hours have an increased risk of stroke, according to a study by the University of Cambridge. Another study has shown that sleeping more than eight hours a night could increase the risk of early death. What’s more, a study published in the European Heart Journal found that adults who sleep two hours longer than the recommended six to eight hours are 41% more likely to suffer a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

In addition to the above-mentioned risks, oversleeping can cause back pain and headache, and it has also been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, depression, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease.

How much sleep do we need?

Sleep is a very important factor for anyone who wants to remain healthy. However, this doesn’t mean that consistently oversleeping is good for you. In fact, too much sleep makes you lethargic. Also, the amount of sleep you get is only half the issue – just as important, if not more important, is the quality of sleep. How much sleep you need to perform optimally depends on various factors. Most adults need on average six to nine hours of sleep per night. But while some may thrive on six hours of sleep, others may need more than eight hours to feel well rested. And some people are long sleepers who need 10 to 12 hours of rest each night before they feel good.

If consistently sleeping longer than nine hours a night still leaves you tired this is considered excessive sleeping. It's best to see a doctor in this case. Oversleeping can cause many health-related concerns. It can also be a sign of an underlying health condition. Your doctor will do tests to check for this.

What causes oversleeping?

One of the main causes of oversleeping and daytime sleepiness is poor sleep quality. Poor sleep quality can be triggered by alcohol or drug use, as it reduces the amount of time you spend in deep sleep. Consuming these substances may help you fall asleep quicker, it also makes it difficult to stay asleep. As a result, the body doesn't get the rest it needs. Sleep apnoea syndrome can also cause significant fatigue. Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is interrupted repeatedly during sleep, resulting in low oxygen levels while sleeping. Most people have no memory of their interrupted breathing. But frequently waking up tired can be a sign that you're experiencing some sort of sleep problem. Another common cause of sleep problems is stress, which can also have a negative impact on your health.

Get insight into your sleep patterns

There are various smartphone apps that allow you to monitor your sleep. Do you suspect you may be sleeping more than you should? With these apps, you can know for sure. Sleep tracking apps are available for both iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) phones. They measure, for instance, how much you move while you sleep. However, sleep quality is determined by many factors, not just motion, so unfortunately these apps are not very accurate. But they can provide a good indication. The most well-known sleep tracking app is Sleep Cycle (for iOS). This app is available in the App Store and costs €0.89. Sleep Bot (iOS and Android), Sleep Time (iOS and Android), and Sleep as Android (Android) are popular free apps.

What can you do when you sleep too much?

Regularity is important for the body to function at its best. Therefore, you should try to go to bed around the same time every night. Reading is a relaxing activity that can support healthy sleep. Also try to get up at the same time as much as possible. Of course, you can sleep in on weekends, but don't overdo it. Make sure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep: it should be quiet, cool, dark and tidy. Invest in a good quality mattress and a warm duvet. It’s also best to avoid eating heavy meals and drinking caffeine too close to bedtime. A good thing to do is have glass of warm milk and a banana. Bananas and milk contain tryptophan, which converts to serotonin and melatonin, making it a natural sedative.

If hypersomnia is caused by an underlying condition that condition needs to be addressed. If the underlying condition is found, treating it may also relieve your sleep problems.

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