With inadequate sleep affecting around 33-45% of adults in Australia[i], you may think that there’s no such thing as too much sleep. However, oversleeping can have detrimental effects as well.
How much sleep do we need?
While there is no ‘magic’ number of hours we should sleep for, experts agree that the average adult should aim for 7-9 hours sleep each night. However, this amount may increase during periods of illness, or if you’ve been more active than usual. Babies, children and teenagers also need more than adults.
How much is too much?
It’s perfectly fine to sleep extra hours over the weekend, especially if you don’t get enough sleep during the week. However, if you regularly sleep more than 9 hours every night then it may be a problem.
What causes oversleeping?
Oversleeping can be caused by a number of factors. One of these is a sleep disorder called hypersomnia. This condition causes people to feel extremely sleepy during the day, which is not relieved by taking a nap. It also causes these people to sleep for unusually long periods at night.
Obstructive sleep apnoea, a disorder characterised by repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the throat while you’re asleep, which can cause you to stop breathing for anywhere from 10 seconds to one minute. Because this interrupts your natural sleep pattern, it can increase your need to sleep.
Other causes include alcohol consumption, prescription medications, and depression.
What are the effects of too much sleep?
Research has shown that oversleeping can increase the risk of a number of medical problems. These include:
- overweight or obesity
- back pain
- heart disease and stroke
- cognitive impairment
- impaired infertility.
What can you do?
If you regularly sleep more than 9 hours every night it’s worth visiting your doctor to find out what is causing your oversleeping issues, especially if they are medication related.
In order to get your 7-9 hours each night, you should practice good sleep habits by keeping the same bedtimes and wake times every day. You should also:
- avoid alcohol and caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime
- avoid eating too much or too little before bed
- avoid strenuous exercise too close to bedtime
- turn off all screens at least 1 hour before bedtime
- focus on relaxing activities such as reading, listening to music or taking a bath.
Having the right sleeping environment will also help you sleep better. Ensure your room is the right temperature, quiet and dark, and be sure that the mattress you’re sleeping on will help you sleep well.
A good mattress should be supportive, but not too hard. It should also be suitable for the way you sleep. For example, a side-sleeper usually prefer slightly softer mattresses to those who sleep on their stomach or back.
For expert advice on choosing the right mattress for you and the rest of your family, visit our store or browse our range online.
[i] Sleep Health Foundation, 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults, https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/surveys/SleepHealthFoundation-Survey.pdf