Sleep Hacks: Too Much of a Good Thing

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Of all the good things to get too much of, who would have thought that sleep is one of them?

That’s right — it’s actually possible to get too much sleep.

Just like getting too little sleep, getting too much sleep is harmful to your health. Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep, so if you’re getting 10 or more hours a night, you’re getting too much. Seems like an odd thing, right? In our go-go-go society, how can too much sleep hurt?

Excessive sleep can increase your risks for several health issues, including stroke and diabetes. Over 9000 older adults who participated in a study by the journal Neurology recorded their sleep habits for about 10 years. Even after the researchers accounted for health factors that could have affected the results, the findings showed that those who slept for more than 10 hours a night had a much higher risk for stroke — even higher than those who got fewer than 7 hours a night.

When it comes to diabetes, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting too much or too little sleep — if you’re not getting the right amount of sleep, you’re generally 2.5 times more likely to develop diabetes. Researchers followed the life habits of nearly 300 patients over 6 years and came to the conclusion that 20% of those who got too much or too little sleep developed diabetes or some kind of “glucose tolerance impairment,” while only 7% of those who got the recommended amount developed the same problems.

It’s important to remember that long periods of sleep are often associated with medical disorders or poor sleep quality. If you’ve recently experienced an increase in the amount of time you spend sleeping, you may want to go to the doctor. As for sleep quality, various factors could be affecting that. It could be as extreme as having undiagnosed sleep apnea, or as simple as sleeping on an old, uncomfortable mattress.

Also keep in mind that the amount of sleep you get is, to a certain degree, relative. While the National Sleep Foundation has provided recommendations for sleep times for different age groups, you  may find that you fall slightly outside of this range. If you feel energized on 6 hours of sleep instead of 7, don’t automatically assume that something is wrong. The same goes for those who sleep for an average of 9.5 hours. Each person’s body operates differently, so as long as you are living a healthy lifestyle, you should be fine.

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