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Can You Really Get Too Much Sleep?

By Karen Heslop

It's already been established that the body needs sufficient sleep. During this time of rest, the brain repairs and replenishes itself while getting rid of toxins that can cause harm. However, recent research has uncovered interesting information -- it's possible to get too much sleep. While the results are preliminary, they strongly suggest that sleeping too much can have a negative effect on your health.

How Much Sleep is Too Much?                    

For adults between the ages of 18 and 64, 7-9 hours of sleep per night is generally ideal. In some cases, persons may need more if they are dealing with a chronic illness or conditions such as pregnancy. For the purposes of the study, 7-9 hours was used as the benchmark so anyone who slept for more than 9 hours consistently was considered to be getting too much sleep.

Possible Effects of Oversleeping

In many ways, getting too much sleep has similar effects to getting too little. Here are a few of the health impact trends that were identified.

  • Impaired brain function - During the studies, persons who slept for 7-9 hours and those who slept for more than 9 hours had their cognitive abilities assessed using games. Those who overslept had decreased memory and cognitive functions.
  • Impaired mental health - It was found that persons who overslept were more likely to deal with incidents of depression and anxiety. When older adults, in particular, were studied, it was shown that those who slept for 10 hours or more had bad mental health overall.
  • Increased inflammation - Persons who oversleep generally have higher levels of C-reactive proteins or cytokines in their system. Cytokines are an indicator of inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is associated with a wide range of issues including diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
  • Increased weight gain - A six-year study that compared weight gain in persons who slept 7-9 hours per night to those who overslept showed that the latter group gained more weight. In fact, they were 21 percent more likely to become obese.
  • Impaired glucose tolerance - When your body is processing sugar, an impaired glucose tolerance can increase your likelihood of insulin resistance. That resistance, in turn, is a potential risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Increased risk of heart disease - In studies that assessed persons who overslept, it was found that they were 38 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease and 46 percent more likely to have a stroke.

It's important to note that the effects of oversleeping are still being studied and can be influenced by many other factors. In the meantime, focus on sleeping for 7-9 hours only and consult your physician if you have any concerns.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Costa Mesa, Calif.

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