Regularly sleeping too long may indicate a health problem
Arab American News, The
We get it: Sleep is good for us.
Insufficient sleep has been linked to stroke, obesity and heart disease. But sleeping too much may also be risky: It, too, is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and obesity, not to mention diabetes and depression.
So, how much is too much? And if you're sleep-deprived during the week, does sleeping 10 or 11 hours on Saturday and Sunday to catch up put you in any jeopardy?
Most experts say that a healthy amount of sleep for an adult is a regular seven to nine hours a night. And the operative term here is "regular," meaning the issue isn't the college kid who power-sleeps 15 hours on vacation to catch up from too much studying (or partying).
When scientists refer to "long sleepers," they're referring to people who consistently sleep nine or more hours a night, says
"If you've been pulling allnighters, by all means extend your sleep on the weekend if you can; try to catch up," Knutson says, "but if you're sleeping nine or 10 hours night after night after night for months on end ... then we've got to understand why are you sleeping so much." You might be getting poorquality sleep, she adds, or are "already on the pathway to illness and your body is reacting by wanting you to sleep more."
Studies have shown that spending too much time in bed can be associated with some specific health problems. It can disrupt the body's circadian rhythms, leaving you more prone to illness, for example, and depriving you of sunlight exposure, which can compromise your immune system. One study found elevated levels of C-reactive protein - a systemic marker of chronic low-grade inflammation associated with heart disease - among those who sleep a lot (and those who sleep too little). A study last spring found that those who slept too much were as much at risk of developing diabetes as those who slept too little. Diabetes was least common in people who said they slept seven to nine hours per night.
But experts caution that it can be hard to pinpoint which is the cause and which is the effect when they look at sleep duration and health problems.
In a 2012 study,
This condition can influence metabolism and make you need to power-sleep. Some studies suggest that hypothyroidism affects almost 5 percent of U.S. adults. It can be treated fairly easily with drugs.
Another cause of long sleep is obstructive sleep apnea, which is marked by interrupted sleep, snoring and pauses in breathing during sleep, and a drop in oxygen levels. This condition affects as many as 18 million Americans, according to the
The most common health issue raised by sleeping too much is depression - which people who sleep excessively may not even know they have, says
Not everyone who sleeps nine to 10 hours a day is unhealthy, doctors say. There are the "somewhat rare" folks who happen to be naturally long sleepers, says Alón Y. Avidan, a neurologist who directs the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. "That's just a genetic trait: Some people just need more than the average amount of sleep to be functioning well the next day." He adds that less than 2 percent of people are likely to fall in that category. *