By John Hand –
A good night of sleep can do wonders for the mind, body and soul. Too much sleep, however, can be a sign of a medical disorder known as hypersomnia. And while getting extra snoozing hours on a regular basis may sound like a great idea, it’s not. It can be a sign of several medical problems and lead to depression, headaches and obesity.
So how much sleep is right? The Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours a night for the average person. Someone suffering from hypersomnia needs at least nine hours of sleep to not feel drowsy throughout the day. One survey of more than 1,000 individuals found that 31 percent of respondents slept more than eight hours once a week. Baby Boomers, for whatever reason, were the most likely to grab the extra bedtime. However, sleeping more than nine hours once a week does not mean someone is suffering from hypersomnia.
The disorder only occurs if there is a chronic pattern of oversleeping. Healthline.com estimates that about 2 percent of the population is dealing with hypersomnia caused by medical conditions such as thyroid issues, heart disease, sleep apnea, depression, narcolepsy and obesity.
Hypersomnia can also develop from lifestyle choices. Not having a regular sleep schedule is one cause, according to the Sleep Foundation. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate the body and precludes someone from sleeping too much or too little. Eating right and avoiding what’s wrong also helps. Too much caffeine or alcohol is a sleep killer. So is a lack of physical activity or exercise. However, it is important to avoid working out close to bedtime because the body will be wide awake. Finally, shutting down electronics before bed is essential because it reduces blue light emissions, which have been proven to keep people awake.
There are several ways to get a handle on whether someone is simply tired or maybe a chronic sleeper. Keeping a sleep diary that tracks bedtimes, waking up at night and when someone finally gets out of bed in the morning is a start. This record-keeping will allow a doctor to look for problem sleeping patterns that may signal deeper issues. Another diagnostic method is to check in for a night in a sleep center. These centers can administer a polysomnogram, which will monitor vitals and movements during sleep. They can also conduct latency tests that measure sleep during daytime naps.
Whatever the cause, hypersomnia can become a gateway to some serious medical issues. WebMD.com cites obesity as a major concern for people who sleep too much. Those sleeping 10-12 hours a night are more likely to gain weight and become obese over a six-year period than people who sleep the average amount. Approximately, 15 percent of those with hypersomnia suffer from depression. Back pain, diabetes and heart disease can also stem from sleeping too much. Headaches are another issue as crashing regularly for more than nine hours has been shown to affect neurotransmitters in the brain.
Finally, hypersomnia is a killer. Various research has shown that link between oversleeping and higher death rates.
Quality sleep—a solid seven to nine hours—is essential to overall health. An occasional deep dive into a nine- or 10-hour rest isn’t a big deal. But when oversleeping becomes chronic, alarm bells should go off.