You have probably heard people repeat that too much sleep is just as bad as too little.
Without even a shred of research, the experience will probably tell you that sleeping too long isn’t good for you. We can feel that something isn’t right when we wake up after an excessively long nap. Rather than feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, we tend to feel lethargic and listless, as if we never went to sleep at all!
If you are struggling to regulate your sleep habits, and you want a little advice on the subject of sleep duration, this article is intended for you. Although words on a page cannot fix your problem, they might be able to point you in the right direction and indirectly help you to obtain a better night’s rest.
How Much Sleep Does A Person Really need?
According to most experts, the average human being requires 7-9 hours of sleep each night. However, this is an approximate figure that applies to healthy adults. Actual requirements will vary somewhat according to age and physical condition. here is a quick guide list:
- Infants (0-3 months): 14-17 hours per day
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours per day
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours per day
- Children (3-5): 10-13 hours per day
- Children (6-13): 9-11 hours per day
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours per day
- Adults: 7-9 hours per day
- Senior Citizens (65+): 7-8 hours per day
Consequences Of Oversleeping:
Let’s start with the most serious side effect: Death! No, sleeping too much isn’t going to keep you from waking up, but it has been shown by exhaustive research that excessive sleep contributes to a higher mortality rate across the board. This includes all age groups and all causes of death.
The same study also found that cardiovascular harm could result from either too much sleep or too little. This seems to confirm the old idea that too much is just as bad as too little. Although anxiety is a hard thing to measure, studies have also shown a link between oversleeping and depression/anxiety. Again, this one is a little harder to prove because it is based on more subjective criteria, but take it for what it’s worth.
Even worse, oversleeping (technically called hypersomnia) can compromise your immune system and make it much more likely that you will come down with an illness. This study shows some proof of this fact, so don’t underestimate the harm that can be done. A compromised immune system is like an open door that invites disease.
Consequences Of Undersleeping:
There are definitely some negative consequences of undersleeping, and some of them are very similar to the effects that you would see as a result of oversleeping. First of all, we might mention obesity. Studies seem to show a causative link between undersleeping and obesity, and there is enough evidence to be considered conclusive.
As you may have noticed, doctors will almost always tell a person who is recovering from an injury/illness to “get plenty of sleep.” This is not just generalized advice but is quite important. To put it simply, a lack of sleep tends to make existing health problems worse. As we can see from this research, pain and inflammation are worsened through insufficient sleep.
Since we do not have the time or space to evaluate all the potential health effects of hyposomnia (insufficient sleep) and insomnia (lack of sleep), we can look at mortality rates across the board, as we did before. As with our other study on this subject , this one concludes that insomnia and hyposomnia lead to an increased rate of mortality. This means that under-sleepers will have about the same mortality rate as over-sleepers.
The Importance Of Consistency
Whatever your sleep habits, it is important to keep them consistent. An erratic sleeping pattern has been associated with several health problems and will reduce your overall well-being in many ways.
Several studies have been done regarding the effects of insufficient sleep, followed by excessive sleep. In other words, we are talking about instances in which a person sleeps too little for a short time, and then sleeps too much in an attempt to compensate. You have probably done this before at one time or another.
When you decide to deprive yourself of sleep, planning to make up for lost time on the following night, it throws your body’s natural rhythms out of balance. In nature, there is very little to restrict the sleep habits of the various creatures, and so they tend to develop consistent patterns. When these patterns are disrupted, there is a loss of performance and a higher rate of health problems.
Here is one piece of the proof. In this study, cognitive functions were measured by the ability of the test subjects to sort a deck of playing cards. Presumably, this method was chosen because sorting a deck of playing cards is not difficult and requires no special knowledge or skills. This task only requires that you pay attention to what you are doing, and the sleep-deprived test subjects proved less able to do that.
In another study, very similar conditions were created. This time, researchers chose to measure physical performance rather than mental acuity. As before, serious deficits were observed in the group that had been on the “sleep roller-coaster.” From this, we can see that excessive sleep is never a good idea, even if you didn’t sleep enough the night before.
In the end, the evidence seems to show that oversleeping is just as bad as undersleeping. This should not be surprising to anyone, considering the fact that humans have known this basic truth for centuries. However, it is the task of science to prove things instead of taking society’s word for it, and we hope that we have done just that. If you found our work to be helpful, feel free to show your appreciation by following us on Facebook.
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