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7 to 9 hours per night is a normal and healthy amount of sleep for adults aged 18 to 64 years old. That’s according to the National Sleep Foundation, an organization dedicated to studying everything related to sleep.
Those 7 to 9 hours are the balance between lack of sleep and oversleeping, both of which have notably adverse effects on the mind and body.
A lot of people believe that there’s nothing wrong with oversleeping, especially when you’re tired from work or physical activity. The more sleep you get, the more your body recovers, right?
Unfortunately, the reality is not that simple. Oversleeping can be just as harmful to the mind and body as regular lack of sleep.
Danger #1: Oversleeping Leads to Poor Mental Health
Several studies have found that sleeping longer than the above recommended amount can cause impaired memory, decreased cognition, and overall lower mental performance.
Excessive sleeping can also be a symptom as well as a cause of depression.
There’s even a Spanish study that found how prolonged sleeping patterns can increase the risk of developing dementia.
Danger #2: Oversleeping Contributes to Inflammation and Pain
Cytokines aka C-reactive proteins (or CRP) are responsible for the level of inflammation in the body. This can be inflammation in varied areas of the body, caused by equally varied conditions like gout and obesity.
And a study has found that abnormally prolonged sleeping patterns can directly elevate the levels of CRP in the body.
So if you’re over 50 years old and/or have preexisting conditions that cause muscle or joint inflammation, the more you need to stick to a balanced number of nightly sleeping hours.
Danger #3: Oversleeping Increases Risk of Obesity, Serious Disease, and Death
Several studies have shown direct links between obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and death.
One study claims that those who slept for 9 to 10 hours per night were 21% more likely to develop obesity over a period of six years.
In a mass data analysis that involved 72,000 women, it was found that those who slept for 9 to 11 hours on a nightly basis were 38% more likely to develop coronary heart disease (as compared to women who only slept for 8 hours regularly).
Meanwhile, several unrelated studies have pointed out higher death rates in people who sleep upwards of 9 hours per night.
While no specific reason for the correlation between oversleeping and death has been pinpointed, the numbers don’t lie: unhealthy amounts of sleep statistically leads to death.
Knowing about the many ill effects of oversleeping is just one part of understanding and overcoming the often misunderstood condition.
If you want to have a healthier regular sleeping patterns, you need to address the reasons why you might be oversleeping.
What Are the Possible Causes of Excessive Sleep?
1: Physical/mental fatigue can cause longer hours of sleep. Being unusually tired can cause you to deviate from your regular sleeping pattern and enjoy your bed a bit more than necessary.
2: Fragmented sleep can make you crave for more. Frequent awakenings in the middle of the night as well as spending more time in bed awake and tossing (instead of actually sleeping) can lead to excessive sleep.
3: Photoperiodic abnormalities can mess with your sleep cycle. If you work in a career that forces you to stay in darkened rooms for prolonged periods of time, it could be affecting your circadian rhythm and making you sleep longer.
4: Underlying conditions and diseases contribute to excessive sleepiness as well. Whether it’s depression, OSA or obstructive sleep apnea, heart disease, or just plain old poor health, a pre-existing condition could be the reason why you’re sleeping beyond the recommended 7 to 9 hours.