Wisconsin writer wrote:
My girlfriend sleeps 10 to 12 hours a day and says it’s because she needs the beauty sleep. She says if she sleeps less, she will get fat and lazy. I thought too much sleep was bad for you though. What is your thought?
If she’s averaging over 8 hours of sleep per night, every night, she may want to see a doctor as there may be an underlying condition. While she is right that sleep can aid in the beautification process (proper amounts of sleep aids metabolism and makes for more beautiful skin), you are completely right that oversleeping is just as bad as undersleeping. While there is no magic number for sleep, researchers show that 6-8 hours a night is everything your body needs to regenerate an adult body (however children typically need 8-10 hours of sleep). You may be asking, “But, Sean, what’s the harm in getting more than 10 hours of sleep?” Here’s the harm (from WEB MD):
Diabetes. In a study of almost 9,000 Americans, 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 per night. This increased risk was also seen in people who slept less than five hours per night.
Obesity. Sleeping too much could make you weigh too much, as well. One recent study 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 were 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 vacation 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 nighttime sleep may also find themselves suffering from headaches in the morning.
Back pain. There was a time when doctors told people suffering from back pain to head straight to bed. But those days are long gone. You do need to curtail your regular exercise program when you are experiencing back pain. But doctors now realize the health benefits of maintaining a certain level of activity. And they recommend against sleeping more than usual, when possible.
Depression. Although insomnia is more commonly linked to depression than oversleeping, roughly 15% of people with depression sleep too much. This may in turn make their depression worse. That’s because regular sleep habits are important to the recovery process. Need another reason not to overdo the ZZZs when you’re blue? In certain instances, sleep deprivation can be an effective treatment for depression.
Heart disease. The Nurses’ Health Study involved nearly 72,000 women. A careful analysis of the data from that study showed that women who slept nine to 11 hours per night were 38% more likely to have coronary heart disease than women who slept eight hours. Researchers have not yet identified a reason for the connection between oversleeping and heart disease.
Death. Multiple studies have found that people who sleep nine or more hours a night have significantly higher death rates than people sleeping seven to eight hours a night. No specific reason for this correlation has been determined.
So sleeping will kill you? Not necessarily..but it could in the long run. A best practice is to set a steady wake up and bed time and get into a sleep/wake routine. Personally, I like getting up at 6am and hitting the sack around 10. It’s a good feeling when I am at home and I know 10pm is coming up. After being in this routine for a few years, I begin to mentally prepare myself for sleep and by the time I get to bed, I am ready for some ZZZ’s.