Medical Problems and Sleeping Too Much

When it comes to sleep, like anything else in life, has been reported that moderation is key for good health and long life. Sleeping too little causes health problems, but did you know that sleeping too much can cause the same or more medicals problems such as diabetes and heart disease and is linked to weight gain, Parkinson’s and depression? Are you sleeping too much? Researchers do point out that the amount of sleep varies with age and that people that are stressed or sick will tend to sleep more. Other factors that cause over sleeping are those that have less access to health care which may have undiagnosed mental and physical illnesses such as heart disease and depression. People that abuse alcohol and drugs are inclined to over sleep. Then there are those that just love to sleep or at least like to take a nap in the afternoon.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should get around seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Some research has found that long sleep durations of nine hours or more are associated with illness and death. What medical problems cause people to sleep too much?

Hypersomnia is a medical disorder that causes people to experience extreme sleepiness during the day which is not relieved by napping. People with hypersomnia crave sleep and can suffer from anxiety, low energy and lack of concentration. They not only sleep at various times during the day, they also sleep for long periods during the night. Causes of hypersomnia are brain damage, clinical depression, uremia, obesity and fibromyalgia. Symptoms are like those with other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome (RLS). Some people get hypersomnia as a result of drug or alcohol abuse, drug or alcohol withdrawal or as a drug side effect as with some psychotropics for depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.

Kleine-Levin Syndrome (aka Sleeping Beauty Sickness) is the most recognized form of recurrent hypersomnia, though it is very rare, these people often sleep up to eighteen hours a day and yet do not feel refreshed upon waking. Patients that suffer from Kleine-Levin Syndrome only wake up to go to the bathroom and eat. When they are awake they tend to be confused, lethargic and are indifferent to the world around them. Many cannot go to school, work or even care for themselves. The cause for Kleine-Levin is unknown. This disorder affects teens more that adults and in many cases disappears as mysteriously as it appears; often when patients reach their twenties.

Non-insulin dependent (type 2) Diabetes has been linked to those that sleep more than nine hours and less than five hours a night by a risk greater than 50% as a result of a study of almost 9,000 Americans. It is not known why longer sleep durations contribute to diabetes, although increased time asleep to compensate for lack of sleep is one possible reason. There are more studies needed to determine if longer sleep periods actually worsen the metabolic syndrome which is a cluster of risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity and insulin resistance which contribute to heart disease and stroke.

Obesity affects those that sleep too little as well as those that sleep nine to ten hours a night. According to a report, 21% of those monitored over a six year period were more likely overweight when sleeping too much than those that slept seven to eight hours even when taking in to account caloric intake and exercise. In another measure, nearly half of those who slept nine hours or more each night were physically inactive during the day, which was associated to other health issues that make exercise more difficult.

Headaches and Back Pain and other minor illnesses cause people to sleep more than usual. But did you know that over sleeping causes headaches? When you over sleep your brain produces more serotonin a hormone that affects our neurotransmitters causing a headache in the morning. Too much time in bed can cause stiffness resulting in back pain. It is not only important for you to have the right mattress for your back you also need to keep a regular exercise program to keep the weight off and not lay down longer than seven to eight hours. The longer you stay in bed, the longer it will take your back to adjust to your redistributed weight and stiffness upon standing.

Mental Illness is associated with irregular sleeping habits. Depression can worsen when you over sleep and it is important to maintain regular sleeping habits to recover. SAD or seasonal affective disorder is a condition were your brain produces too much melatonin because there isn’t enough day light hours which causes people to sleep longer and take naps in the afternoon. SAD triggers feelings of despair, misery, guilt, hopelessness or anxiety. You may find normal tasks become frustratingly difficult, you may cry for no apparent reason or be unable to concentrate. Exercise, taking Vitamin D and light therapy help those that suffer from SAD.

Cardiovascular diseases are 38% more likely to happen for those that sleep nine to 11 hours a night according to a report by The Nurses’ Health Study involving nearly 72,000 women than those that slept seven to eight hours. With ten hours’ sleep, the death rate from a heart attack or stroke for women over 70 increased 167%, while for men aged 50 to 59, it increased 286%. Researchers have not yet identified a reason for the connection between oversleeping and heart disease as the evidence does not show which came first-the arterial disease, or the tendency to sleep longer than average.

Parkinson’s is more probable or twice as likely to develop for those people that sleep at least nine hours verses those that sleep on six hours or less. A study done by the National Institute of Health, a U.S. government body studies 80,000 nurses over 24 years and found that those that slept eight hours were 60% prone to the disease while only 10% for those that slept seven. The most at risk were those that slept at least nine hours a night or 80%. At the end of the study 181 developed Parkinson’s.

What they did find interesting was that night-shift workers had lower levels of the hormones melatonin and oestradiol. Some scientists believe higher levels contribute to the development of Parkinson’s and a need to sleep may be an early sign of the condition. Other symptoms include tremors, stiffness and gradual slowing down of the body. Further research is needed to make a final conclusion how sleep is related to Parkinson’s.

It’s a matter of life and death as studies show us that people who sleep nine hours or more have higher death rates than those that sleep seven to eight hours a night. If you feel you are sleeping too much consult with your doctor as he may recommend further test to determine why you over sleep, as too much sleep can be an underlying medical condition. Keeping a sleep journal of your sleeping habits will help the doctor determine if a sleep study is necessary. Sleep experts recommend that having a sleep routine and getting seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night will keep us healthy and live a long life.