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6 Health Problems Associated with Too Much Sleep

3 min read

By Emily Lockhart

Generally, we live in a world where we’re used to being told to get more sleep. However, even though medical professionals espouse the value of getting regular, quality shut-eye to keep up a strong immunity, for energy, and in order to stay focused, it seems that too much sleep can also be dangerous to health. According to Dr. Michael Irwin, Professor of Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, sleeping more than 8 or more hours per night can be just as detrimental to your health and well being as not enough zzzzzzzs.

Let’s look at six health issues that can develop in people who sleep too much…

1. How Much Sleep is Too Much?

It’s natural to need more sleep as we age, says Dr. Susan Redline, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (with a focus on sleep and circadian disorders) and professor of sleep medicine at Harvard University. However, Dr. Redline explains that the need for lots of shut eye can also be “a marker for underlying health problems…[and a] sign that you have a disease.”

Dr. Redline clarifies that the health and well being of people who sleep more than 10-hours daily is typically worse off—when compared to folks who only get 7- to 8-hours of shut eye each day.


2. Long Sleepers Risk Type II Diabetes

Here’s some serious medical research to sleep on…or not! According to this 2013 study published by the American Diabetes Association, excessive sleepers (as well as those who skimp on sleep regularly) tend to have increased blood sugar levels.

As you likely know heightened blood sugar levels—in addition to carrying around excess weight, consuming an unhealthy diet, and living a sedentary lifestyle— are all factors that increase the chances of developing type II diabetes.

sleep 2

3. Feeling Depressed? claims that too much of a good thing (sweet dreams) can often translate to negativity in your waking life. For instance, oversleeping is often strongly linked to depression and other negative health impacts.

Depression and the tendency to sleep too much is considered a “chicken and the egg” type of link to many health professionals. However, keep in mind that even though many clinically depressed patients oversleep, studies indicate that too much sleep can actually worsen certain types of depression.

sleep dream

4. Sleeping Longer = Obesity

It kind of makes sense that if you sleep more, you move less. And while a link exists between individuals who sleep to little and weight gain—this 2010 study from the National Institutes of Health claims a link is also apparent between individuals who sleep too much and tend to weigh more.

Researchers speculate that those who sleep too long tend to weigh more for the simple fact that if you spend a lot of time sleeping, it leaves little time for physical activity and burning calories.

sleep in

5. You May Develop Cardiovascular Disease

You would think that because you love sleeping so much that your heart health would be stellar from all of those zzzzzzzs. Unfortunately that’s not the case according to this article from the Huffington Post that claims oversleeping increases the overall risk of heart disease.

Further studies indicate that women who are long sleepers have a greater risk of developing future cardiac issues compared to men. Keep in mind that heart disease is already considered the number one cause of U.S. death for women by several government health organizations.

sleep heart

6. Excess Sleep, Early Death

While the saying may go, “early to bed and early to rise makes and (hu)man healthy, wealthy and wise” it turns out that too much sleep can lead to early death. In fact, this 13-year study from the University of Cambridge, England noted that lengthy sleepers, and nappers in particular, have an increased risk of early mortality.

The British study monitored the effects of daytime napping (of between 1 hour and or longer per day) on a group of 16,374 men and women. Researchers identified a link between daytime napping and all-cause mortality from respiratory diseases among those 65 years of age or younger. Further research demonstrates that early mortality increases with pre-existing health conditions (i.e., heart problems or type 2 diabetes).

Daytime Napping

Emily Lockhart


Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.

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