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Personal Health

How Much Sleep Is Too Much?

Have you ever had one of those weekends where you can't seem to get out of bed? Sometimes, you can easily pin down the cause of your lagging energy to the changing seasons, the onset of daylight saving time, or simply going to bed too late the night before. But other times it may be hard to tell what the culprit is, especially if you find that you can't feel rested no matter how much sleep you get.

How much sleep is too much? Should you be worried about your health if you're oversleeping? How can you evaluate whether you're getting quality sleep? Let's take a closer look at these questions so you can better understand what your sleep patterns are telling you about your health.

The Ideal Amount of Sleep

Before we understand how much sleep is too much, let's look at how much is essential. Adults generally require seven to eight hours of sleep per night, while teens need nine to 10 hours and children should get at least 10 hours. It would seem that getting too little sleep is a more common issue than getting too much: In fact, more than a third of adults get seven hours of sleep or less per night, while only 3.6 percent get more than 10 hours.

Generally, excessive sleep isn't an issue in itself, but there's some connection between oversleeping and certain negative health outcomes. One study found that long sleep was associated with an increased risk of stroke. It's not entirely clear whether excessive sleep can cause health problems or if it's simply a symptom of an underlying, undiagnosed condition.

Assessing the Quality of Your Sleep

Whether oversleeping is a cause or an effect, it can be a useful indicator of overall health. If you're sleeping more than eight hours per night and are still feeling tired and drowsy, you might not be getting the quality of sleep that your body needs, even if you're sleeping for what seems to be the right number of hours.

Sleep apnea is one disorder that can cause this problem. One of its common symptoms is feeling sleepy all day even after getting sufficient sleep the previous night. There are also other, less common sleep disorders that can cause similar issues. For example, narcolepsy occurs when your brain can't regulate its sleep-wake cycle normally, causing lots of fatigue during the day. You won't necessarily sleep longer than normal at night because of narcolepsy, but you'll certainly be more compelled to take naps during the day.

If you're sick or dealing with an injury, you may need more sleep so your body can recover. If you're feeling under the weather or struggling to bounce back from an illness, be sure to give your body the extra rest it needs.

What to Do Next

So how do you assess how much sleep is too much? Pay attention to how you feel. If you aren't waking up feeling refreshed and well rested or just can't seem to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, talk to your physician. You may have an underlying sleep disorder or some other undiagnosed condition. People who are depressed also tend to sleep too much, so counseling or antidepressants could help.

Be open to your doctor's suggestions. If you can get to the bottom of what's causing your sleep problems, you'll feel more refreshed, creative, and energetic once you're getting the right amount of quality sleep.

Posted in Personal Health

Author and publicist, featured by Business Week, Livestrong, The Nest, and many other publications. Her interests include Science, technology, business, pets, women's lifestyle and Christian living.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.