Sleep is a vital portion of our lives. In fact, the average humans spends more than thirty percent of his or her life in bed. This should really come as no great surprise, as the restorative factors of sleep have been known for decades.
This is why those who are suffering from sleep apnea will often encounter health problems if this condition is left unchecked. However, we also need to keep in mind that there are certain dangers associated with oversleeping.
Let us first take a look at how much rest we should optimally receive every night before moving on to examine some of the negative effects that can result from oversleeping.
What is the Optimal Number of Hours that We Should Rest Every Night?
Most of us have heard that sleeping between seven and nine hours every night will produce the most optimal health benefits. However, this is only partially true. The amount of rest that we require will also depend upon our age.
For example, infants can often be seen sleeping for between 17 and 19 hours each day. This is understandably vital, as their bodies are growing extremely fast. Sleeping helps to restore damaged tissues, to produce essential nutrients and to maintain a mental equilibrium.
As we age, sleeping patterns tend to change. By the time we reach adulthood (older than 25 years) the majority of individuals will require between seven and nine hours of rest. This number only slightly decreases (between seven and eight hours) for those who are over the age of 65.
Please note that these figures have been updated based upon a handful of recent studies performed by accredited institutions.
What Other Factors May Come Into Play?
It should also be mentioned that the guidelines mentioned above may impacted by other factors. One common example is the amount of physical stress that our bodies endure on a daily basis.
For example, those who are employed in the construction sector are likely to require more time for their bodies to heal on a nightly basis when compared to an individual who works within an office environment.
Illness and stress will likewise have an effect upon our sleeping patterns. Those who are recovering from an illness might need more rest, as their bodies are still healing. On the contrary, anyone experiencing a significant amount of stress could also need more time to “recharge their batteries” due to the debilitating impacts that these emotions can have upon the body.
Other variables that can influence our sleeping habits include:
- The consumption of stimulants or sedatives
- Certain types of prescription medications
- Environmental factors such as temperature and humidity
Now that we have obtained a basic understanding of how much rest is required from a general point of view, what about the other side of the proverbial coin? Why can oversleeping pose serious health risks if left unchecked? This is an important question which deserves a closer look.
A Look at the Hazards of Oversleeping
Sometimes known as hypersomnia, countless individuals are prone to oversleeping. There can be numerous underlying causes such as depression, narcolepsy, sedating medications, heart diseases, and problems with the thyroid gland. Regardless of what might be triggering this condition, the associated side effects can be just as serious.
From a medical standpoint, here are some dangers that can be exacerbated by oversleeping:
- Heart disease
- Chronic headaches
Furthermore, physical issues such as lower back pain can be a sign of oversleeping; the body tends to remain in a fixed position for unnaturally long periods of time.
What OSA Sleeping Looks Like
Another interesting factor that can sometimes play a role is an underlying condition such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). As OSA leads to poor sleeping habits, some individuals will remain tired for days at a time. If not treated, they could very well fall into a pattern of sleeping too much on sporadic occasions. Here is an example of a typical OSA sleeping schedule:
- Night one: sleeping for four hours.
- Night two: sleeping for five hours.
- Night three: sleeping for less than three hours.
- Night four: sleeping for ten or twelve hours in order to make up for the previous evenings.
What is perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that mortality rates seem to be higher in those who have a habit of oversleeping on a regular basis. Scientists do not yet understand this correlation, but ancillary factors such as lower socioeconomic status and feelings of profound depression are likely to have an influence.
Discovering the Root Cause
One of the most confounding issues associated with oversleeping involves the fact that such a pattern can be quite difficult to break without obtaining the advice of a professional. This is why the first step is to consult with an expert. He or she will be able to help you identify what might be causing this condition. You can then begin to make proactive changes over time. This will help you begin down the path to recovery.
Why Procuring an At-Home Sleeping Test is an Excellent Idea
Having said this, you might suspect that sleep apnea is the main reason why you are oversleeping. If so, you should make it a point to obtain an at-home sleep test as soon as possible. This quick analysis will illustrate whether or not OSA may be present. If it is, numerous effective options such as the nightly use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine can produce viable results.
Oversleeping does not necessarily signify that you are “lazy”. In fact, it could signal that a very real physiological or emotional problem may be present. The restorative power of this “downtime” cannot be denied and there is no better moment than the present to consult with a professional.
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