It’s already common knowledge that a lack of quality sleep and not sleeping enough can trigger a multitude of health problems. However, newer studies have shown that sleeping more than the generally recommended number of hours can be just as troublesome.
The generally recommended number is seven to eight hours of sleep every day, although this may vary slightly depending on the individual. According to the scientists at the University of California, people who sleep 9-10 hours every night tend to have more problems staying asleep, falling asleep and many other problems. Those who sleep less than 7 hours also experience difficulty falling asleep and waking up rested and refreshed.
Below is a list of problems that can be caused by sleeping too much or too little. First, we begin with the problems caused by oversleeping:
Several studies have shown that sleeping for more than 8 hours increases the risk of diabetes. According to one study published by “The American Diabetes”, those who oversleep and have clinomania, which is an abnormal desire to stay in bed longer than usual are at an increased risk of developing type II diabetes.
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A recent study has shown that those who sleep for more than 9-10 hours every night are 21% more likely to become overweight over a period of 6 years compared to people who sleep for 6-8 hours.
For lots of people oversleeping during weekends or vacations can cause serious headaches. The reason this happens is that sleeping longer than usual affects the neurotransmitters in the brain. Also, people who sleep longer during the day experience more headaches and then have difficulty sleeping or staying asleep during the night.
Even though having insomnia is more commonly related to depression, close to 15% of people suffering from depression have reported that they sleep too much. This is a self-reinforcing cycle and can make their depression even worse. Having regular sleeping habits each day can greatly improve the recovery process.
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The Nurses’ Health Study that included 72,000 women found that those who slept 9-11 hours each night were more likely to develop coronary heart disease compared to those who slept for 8 hours. However, scientists have still not been able to identify the exact link between oversleeping and heart disease.
Risk of early death
In a study that lasted for 13 years conducted by the University of Cambridge, it was found that people who overslept had an increased risk of early mortality. This risk was even greater for people who already had a serious condition such as diabetes or heart disease.
Now let’s go over the problems caused by not sleeping enough:
Disrupted immune system
If you start catching colds a bit too often and feel that your body’s becoming extra sensitive, the most likely culprit is the lack of quality sleep. Not sleeping enough for a longer period can gradually weaken your immune system, which will make it harder for the body to fight the various viruses and bacteria.
Sleeping less than 7-8 hours can potentially lead to increased weight gain. To maintain a healthy weight, every night you need to have quality sleep for a specified number of hours. People deprived of sleep have decreased leptin levels, the hormone which makes you feel full and increases ghrelin levels, the hormone in charge of increasing hunger. This will lead to overeating, which in turn will make you gain unnecessary weight.
When you spend several nights not getting enough sleep, you start to get irritable and moody. One study found that a lack of quality sleep is the primary reason behind increased anxiety and depression.
Increased risk of type II diabetes
The same way that sleeping too much can lead to the development of type II diabetes, not sleeping enough can also do the same. The levels of insulin in our bodies are very sensitive to the fluctuations in our sleeping hours. This is why insulin is most stable when our sleeping hours follow a strict pattern.
One study found that men and women who slept less than 7 hours have lower sex drives and are generally less interested in sex.
If you’re a woman who’s unable to conceive, not getting at least 8 hours asleep each night can be the culprit. The reason for this is that when your sleep is disrupted, this can cause a decrease in the release of the essential reproductive hormones.
If you find yourself unable to fall asleep easily at night and try to compensate by taking naps during the day, you should avoid doing that. Even though short naps help us regain some energy and can be quite beneficial at times, to get some well-needed rest at night, it’s better to avoid them.