Is Too Much Sleep a Bad Thing?


While everyone knows the importance of a good night’s rest, sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While lack of sleep can lead to decreased immunity and increased stress, too much sleep may lead to a higher risk of stroke or could be a sign of sleep problems. The recommended goal is about seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Naps may be supplemented occasionally as they can help the body catch up on lost rest, but oversleeping may mean you aren’t getting the best sleep possible.

A recent study published in the journal “Neurology” looked at roughly 9,600 older adults for around 10 years. Participants who reported sleeping more than eight hours per night were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke, compare to those with moderate sleep levels. Even after accounting for factors like high blood pressure and other environmental factors, those who slept longer still had an elevated stroke risk. Light sleepers, participants who slept six or less per hours had a slightly higher risk for stroke, but it was not statistically significant.

People who oversleep may also be showing a symptom of another, potentially more serious, condition. Depression, heart diseases, high cholesterol, and even high stress can cause lengthy sleep sessions. It is common reasoning: those who are unhealthy tend to want to sleep more. When our body’s immune system is hard at work fighting viruses, chemicals in the brain make you feel more fatigued. It is important to rest to encourage the immune system to fight even harder.

If you begin over sleeping or under sleeping suddenly, it could be a sign of a problem. Generally when people get older, they require less and less sleep. If older adults begin snoozing more than usual, it could signal depression, sleep disorders, or a different health problem. If this occurs, it is important to discuss these changes with your physician. Sometimes a little extra sleep or lack thereof is common, but too much have one or the other could be something else.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Durant Weston