Catching Your Daily ZZZs

By now you’ve probably heard the long list of problems that can come from not getting adequate sleep. Researchers say that sleep deprivation can contribute to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and psychiatric problems. It can impair our cognitive functioning, suppress our immune system, increase our chances of being in a car accident, and make us more likely to suffer an injury at work.

But is there such a thing as too much sleep? While getting a good night’s sleep is important, experts say it’s also possible to get too much sleep.

People who don’t get enough rest during the week often try to make up their sleep deficit on weekends. That works up to a point, but it can result in a marathon sleep session that leaves you feeling groggy for hours – a condition known as sleep drunkenness. In addition, many people experience headaches after sleeping too long. Even if you feel fine after you wake up, getting too much rest on the weekend can make it hard to get back to a healthy routine when Monday morning rolls around.

Excessive sleeping can also be a sign that your prescription medications need to be adjusted, or it can be a red flag for a more serious problem, including heart disease or depression. Diabetes, in particular, seems to be linked with too much sleep. Research has found that people who sleep more than nine hours per night had a 50 percent increased risk of diabetes over those who slept seven hours a night.

Your chances of obesity are also higher if you sleep nine or more hours per night. Extreme sleepiness is often linked to sleep apnea, a condition which causes people to stop breathing during the night, often hundreds of times. Since their normal sleep cycle is so disrupted, people with this condition never feel fully rested, making it difficult to initiate the lifestyle changes necessary to lose weight, such as getting exercise.

Consult your physician if you think you may be sleeping excessively, especially if your sleep needs have changed significantly over time.