For some of us, there may be nothing more pleasing than the thought of a long, unbroken sleep. And in theory, the more you sleep, the more revitalised you should feel.
Research suggests otherwise. After a really long slumber, it’s not uncommon to wake up with your brain feeling a bit foggy – and various studies confirm that too much sleep makes you tired.
Too Much Sleep Can Be a Gateway to Dementia
Researchers in the US have found that those of us who sleep 9+ hours per night are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia over a 10-year period. Oddly, in a recent article, I wrote on the dangers of too little sleep, dementia was also cited as a potential long-term side effect.
In the case of too much sleep, 234 out of 2,400 participants enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study developed dementia over a ten-year period. Declining brain function was also a problem with participants who overslept.
If you have been snoozing too long, too often, one of the best things you can engage in is active learning to counteract the damage. Countless studies have indicated that those who engage in continuous learning are less likely to develop dementia, lie in or not.
Too Much Sleep Can Be Dangerous For Your Mental Health
Does sleeping too much cause depression? Or is sleeping too much a sign of depression? This one is a catch-22. When we feel low, the most welcoming option is often bed. Nothing and no-one can hurt you there, right? The trouble is, oversleeping breeds more oversleeping, making it more difficult to escape the funk. You feel tired from too much sleep and even less capable of battling the demons that made you want to stay in bed in the first place.
Healthy sleep and rest is a necessity for healthy brain and body function, but sleeping too much can cause symptoms of depression. In a study of 1,788 adults, those who slept for 10 hours or more per night noted a 49% increase in feelings of depression.
If you are feeling like a walk to the local shop is the equivalent of a hike up the Himalayas, try to occupy your mind and push through the fog to break the fatigue.
Too Much Sleep Can Lower Your Chances of Pregnancy
Just about everyone has a theory on how you can increase your chances of making a tiny human, and researchers in South Korea believe optimum sleep could be key. Dr Daniel Park from the University of South Korea believes that women who stick to the same bedtime and rising time per day are more likely to have success.
Too much sleep raises the hormone levels of prolactin in the body which can suppress ovulation and hinder your ability to procreate. Dr Park also linked an erratic lifestyle caused by too much sleep to infertility, “Heavy sleepers may have irregular lifestyles, they get up late, miss breakfast, go to bed late and this all affects their fertility.”
Great in theory, but unrealistic for many.
Too Much Sleep Can Cause Weight Gain
The common-sense theory is that the more you sleep, the less you exercise. Unless you’re an epic sleepwalker, spending 10+ hours in bed is cutting out 3 hours of potential calorie burning compared with a ‘healthy’ sleeper. If you struggle to stay awake during the day, you may be asking yourself 'do I have hypersomnia?'. If so, this could mean you're too tired to exercise, especially if you spend the day sleeping away!
Of course, everything we do burns calories, even snoozing. But it’s comparatively lower than say, walking the dog or doing the ironing. Conversely, those 3 extra hours could be spent lying horizontally on the sofa in which case can we really attribute oversleeping to weight gain?
Apparently so. Oversleeping disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm (24-hour body clock) and slows down healthy function. Excess sleep halts the rate at which your body can break down sugar and increases inflammation, all of which contribute to weight gain.
It’s important to note that in my research on this topic, too much sleep and too little sleep were virtually on par with each other.
The happy medium of 7-8 hours per night is cited time and time again as the winner for good health and vitality. A solid routine where you stick to that tried-and-tested amount can do you wonders – and particularly if you have a mattress that’s giving you the support you need.