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Physical side effects of oversleeping

While it is important to get enough sleep, it is possible to get too much sleep, which can affect your health.

Oversleeping has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and early death.

Oversleeping: how much sleep is too much?

The amount of sleep you need varies significantly over the course of your lifetime. It depends on your age and activity level as well as your general health and lifestyle habits. For instance, during periods of stress or illness, you may feel an increased need for sleep. But although sleep needs differ over time and from person to person, experts typically recommend that adults should sleep between seven and nine hours each night.

 

Why do people sleep too much?

For people who suffer from hypersomnia, oversleeping is actually a medical disorder. The condition causes people to suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day, which is not usually relieved by napping. It also causes them to sleep for unusually long periods of time at night. Many people with hypersomnia experience symptoms of anxiety, low energy and memory problems as a result of their almost constant need for sleep. 

Obstructive sleep apnoea, a disorder that causes people to stop breathing momentarily during sleep, can also lead to an increased need for sleep. This is because it disrupts the normal sleep cycle.

Of course, not everyone who oversleeps has a sleep disorder. Other possible causes of oversleeping include the use of certain substances, such as alcohol and some prescription medicines. Other medical conditions, including depression, can cause people to oversleep. And then there are people who simply enjoy sleeping for long periods of time.

Medical problems linked to oversleeping

Diabetes. In a US study of almost 9,000 people, researchers found a relationship between sleep and the risk of diabetes. People who slept more than nine hours each night had a 50% greater risk of diabetes than people who slept seven hours a night. This increased risk was also seen in people who slept less than five hours a night. The researchers did not draw conclusions about the physiological link between long sleep and diabetes. But they did suggest that oversleeping could be indicative of underlying medical problems that increase the likelihood of diabetes.

Obesity. Sleeping too much could make you weigh too much, as well. One study in the US showed that people who slept for nine or 10 hours every night were 21% more likely to become obese over a six-year period than people who slept between seven and eight hours. This association between sleep and obesity remained the same even when food intake and exercise were taken into account.

Headaches. For some people prone to headaches, sleeping longer than usual on a weekend or holiday can cause head pain. Researchers believe this is due to the effect oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. People who sleep too much during the day and disrupt their night-time sleep may also find themselves suffering from headaches in the morning.

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