How Much Sleep is Too Much?

September 13, 2017

Essential sleep is for good health, but can you have too much of a good thing? How much sleep is too much?

 

Are you the type who, even though you went to bed at a reasonable hour, still wakes up late and is always late for work? If you are, you might be oversleeping. Oversleeping for an adult is defined as sleeping for more than eleven hours per night on a regular basis.

The amount of sleep one needs over a lifetime varies depending on age, general health, lifestyle habits, and activity level. However, on average, seven to eight hours’ sleep per night for an adult is ideal. Having said that, occasional oversleeping is not a problem. Sleeping in on the odd Sunday morning or on the first couple of days of your holiday causes no harm whatsoever, but if your oversleeping is chronic, you may have a problem.

 

If you suspect that you are oversleeping, the first thing to do is to find out if any underlying health problem may be the cause. See your doctor and he/she will be able to test for conditions and illnesses that can cause oversleeping. Also, certain medications can cause you to oversleep. Your doctor will be able to advise you about these as well.

 

Specific medical sleep disorders such as Hypersomnia, a condition where people suffer from an almost constant need for sleep, will cause oversleeping. Another medical condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea, where people stop breathing momentarily during sleep, also leads to an increased need for sleep. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned that either of these might be the cause of your oversleeping.

 

Once you have eliminated any underlying health issue as the cause, you can consider the following tips to help you get your sleep patterns back on track:

 

1. Reset your body clock - Get into a routine every night so that your body is relaxed and ready for sleep at the same time every night. Slowly over time, start this sleep routine a few minutes later than the night before. Every night, set your alarm for the same time, that is, an hour earlier than you think you need to. This will give you plenty of time to get ready. Slowly over time, reduce the amount of sleep you are getting. 

 

2. Be positive – Tell yourself you can do it. Stick to your plan and change your habits consciously and gradually. It will pay off in the end.

 

3. Take a nap during the day – Reducing the amount of time you sleep for at night might make you sleepy during the day. If this is the case, you should take a nap. However, you should keep it to no more than half an hour, any longer and it will affect your ability to get off to sleep at night.

 

4. Exercise – Sunset (or at least five hours before bed) has been shown to be the best time to exercise for good sleep. Try and do some cardiovascular exercise for about 30 minutes each day.

 

5. Take a shower first thing in the morning – Take a cold shower if you need to. The shock of the cold water will help you wake up.

 

6. Eat a light healthy breakfast – A sugar high in the morning will leave you wasted and sluggish in the afternoon. A healthy breakfast that combines good carbs, fibre, and some protein will set you up for the day.

 

Sources:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/sleep/basics/how-to-fall-asleep1.htm, accessed 13 September 2017.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2394431/Think-exercise-help-sleep-It--itll-FOUR-months-effect.html, accessed 13 September 2017.