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There Are Risks with Sleeping too Much?

Posted by Cherice Conley-Harvey, M.D. on Jun 14, 2017, 8:11:00 AM

So many people are chasing a good night’s rest that the thought of getting too much sleep sounds crazy. The truth is, oversleeping can cause problems just as not getting enough shut-eye does. 

Oversleeping Comes with Side Effects

There are physical, and sometimes mental, side effects of oversleeping that most people are unaware of. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, back pain and headaches are all thought to be medically linked to oversleeping.

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  • Headaches – Oversleeping can cause a disruption in the neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, which in turn causes headaches.
  • Back pain – Not getting enough exercise can lead to back pain, and while the old way of thinking often recommended that patients with sore backs rest, it is widely believed now that exercise and moving around is more effective treatment.
  • Heart disease – Studies have shown women who oversleep, or who sleep up to 11 hours per night, are 38 percent more likely to have heart disease than women who slept seven to nine hours.
  • Obesity – Even if a patient is not initially obese, studies have shown that these same patients are 21 percent more likely to become obese over a six-year period than patients who kept a seven- to nine-hour-per-night sleep cycle.
  • Diabetes – Researchers found an increased risk for diabetes in patients who regularly oversleep. 

There also seems to be a correlation between oversleeping and depression, but researchers believe that oftentimes, it is the depression which causes the oversleeping. There have also been studies that link higher death rates to people who sleep on average more than seven to nine hours per night. 

When Oversleeping Is a Medical Condition

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Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. If you’re getting a regular amount of sleep at night and still feel excessively drowsy during the day, you could have a sleep disorder called hypersomnia. With most people, hypersomnia isn’t the disorder, but rather a symptom of another sleep condition, such as narcolepsy, which severely disrupts sleep routines, or sleep apnea, which often wakes up sufferers several times a night, often without them even realizing it, preventing them from entering restful sleep. If you are experiencing excessive sleepiness during the day or can sleep almost any time in any condition, you could have hypersomnia and it would be good to talk with your doctor. He or she will likely recommend a sleep study and conduct a few additional tests to see what the cause of your hypersomnia is. Primary hypersomnia, or hypersomnia not caused by any other sleep condition, is extremely rare – occurring in about 1 percent of the population – so it’s likely your hypersomnia is caused by something else. 

How to Get a Good Night’s Rest

First, realize that if you have a medical condition, the only way you’re likely to get a good night’s rest is with medical intervention. If you’re concerned about your sleep cycle or having trouble getting the right amount of sleep, call your doctor to schedule an appointment. 


Dr. Cherice Conley-Harvey is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Pearland Clinic. Her clinical interests include women’s health and preventive care.



Topics: oversleeping, hypersomnia, sleeping too much

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