Is it Possible to Sleep Too Much?

You know that at least eight hours of high quality sleep is ideal for achieving your healthy goals, but is it possible to sleep too much?  Yes!  Experts agree that most people need seven to eight hours of sleep for optimal health, but sleeping more than ten hours each day can lead to poor health.  Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts estimate that as much as thirty percent of American adults sleep too

Why is too much sleep a problem?
Experts are divided, but some opine that too much sleep is an indicator of poor quality of sleep.  If you’re sleeping well for eight hours, you should wake feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.  Sleeping more than eight hours is generally a sign that you’re spending a long time in bed, but not necessarily sleeping well. The combination of staying in bed too long and not sleeping well enough can lead to conditions including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and poor mood.

How to sleep less and better.
If you fall into the 30% of American adults that sleeps too much or stays in bed too long while suffering from poor quality sleep, you can begin changing your relationship with sleep tonight.

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Even on weekends and holidays, your sleep schedule should remain consistent and vary by no more than one hour in either direction.  For the same reasons that you schedule a bedtime and wake up call for your children, you need this for yourself, too.  If you feel that you need a nap, limit your nap to only thirty minutes and avoid late-afternoon napping.  The more consistent your schedule, the more likely your body is to adapt to a regular eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Incorporate healthier nighttime habits in your pre-bedtime routine. Feeling too hungry or too full, using nicotine or caffeine, or having an alcoholic drink can all alter your body’s natural ability to fall asleep.  Curtailing caffeine and heavy meals earlier in the day will help your body wind down more easily at bedtime.
  • Exercise. Exercise not only improves your mood and releases endorphins, but it also helps your body relax into a worry-free, effortless sleep at night.  Some studies suggest that exercising too closely to bedtime impairs rest, though, so schedule your workout in the morning or mid-afternoon to receive the most benefits.
  • Meditate or journal. If worries keep you from falling asleep or cause you to sleep too much, try adding meditation or journaling to your evening routine.  Freeing your mind from the constant flow of information or stress can allow you to fall asleep more easily and achieve a better quality sleep. If a lengthy to do list causes you to avoid getting out of bed in the morning, plan to start your day with a few easy tasks to jump start your day and improve your mood.

Do you sleep too much?  It can happen to anyone from time to time.  Before winter’s long, dark days descend upon us, now is the perfect time to reestablish a better, healthier sleep schedule.


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