Is it possible to get too much sleep?

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • I've been reading, researching and writing about sleep and sleep disorders for over ten years now, since my husband was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Anyone reading a few of my articles will realize that I'm a big advocate for getting enough sleep.


    I've seen the damage sleep deprivation can do. I believe that the four most necessary things in life are air, water, food and sleep.


    Seven or Eight Hours Sleep is Sufficient

    How much sleep is enough? Some people can manage on six hours sleep a night. Seven to eight hours have long been the standard. I still think that's what the majority of people need. Recent studies suggest that less than six hours of sleep can be detrimental to a person's health.

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    A new study from the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in California suggests that the ideal amount of sleep each night is between 6.5 and 7.5 hours. People who average less than 6.5 hours don't live as long, and here's the surprise. Neither do people who sleep more than 8 hours.


    Very short and very long sleep seems to cause an increase in several illnesses and disorders, including depression, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Another malady caused by too little or too much sleep is migraines. Sleeping too long can have us waking up as tired as if we had too little sleep. If you get your full eight hours sleep every night, more sleep is not what you need. You may be suffering from a disease or disorder that is sapping your energy. Rather than trying to sleep your way out of it, see your doctor to try to determine the cause.


    So far, no reason has been determined as to why those who sleep longer suffer from more health problems. "Everything that we've seen in the last few years regarding this issue says yes, if you're getting seven to eight hours of sleep at night, you have the best chance of not gaining weight and maintaining your own weight,'' Donna Arand, an experimental psychologist with the Sleep Disorders Center at Kettering Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, said in an interview. "And if you're getting a lot less than that or a lot more than that, you're hurting yourself and it's going to be an uphill battle,'' she continued.


    How to Get a Longer Night's Sleep

    • Set a regular time for going to bed and getting up.
    • Give yourself ample time to sleep, seven to eight hours.
    • Keep noisy disruptions like phones, TVs and radios out of the bedroom.
    • Beds should be reserved for sleeping and sex.
    • Don't eat a heavy meal within three hours of bedtime. Avoid alcoholic drinks, smoking and caffeine near bedtime.
    • Try relaxation techniques or meditation. Keep night lighting to a minimum, especially in the bathroom.
    • Avoid daytime naps.

    How To Avoid Too Much Sleep

    • Go to sleep at your usual time.
    • Set an alarm so you wake up after seven or eight hours of sleep or arrange to have someone call you.
    • Keep the same schedule on weekends as during the week. Wake up at the same time on weekends.
    • Have a morning routine and stick to it. Don't go back to bed. A few weeks of this routine and it should become natural for you.

    Enough but not too much - that's the key to healthy sleep.





Published On: June 20, 2008