Sleeping Too Much

In Health on February 3, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I sleep anywhere from nine hours to 12 hours a night. I just found out that sleeping too much isn’t good for you! I always thought that however long you slept–if left to your own devices–is what’s good for you. Some people will wake automatically after four hours sleep, some after ten or more. But now I’m reading that too much sleep may shorten your life more than too little sleep does. And, even worse, postmenopausal women (which I am) increase their risk of stroke by 70% if they sleep more than nine hours a night, while women who sleep five hours or less only increase their risk of stroke by 14%. (See article here.)

Sleeping too much can also be a factor in obesity. “One recent study showed that people who slept for nine or 10 hours every night were 21% more likely to become obese over a six-year period than were people who slept between seven and eight hours. This association between sleep and obesity remained the same even when food intake and exercise were taken into account. ” (See article here.) That may explain a lot in my case, because I am at least 30 pounds overweight. I don’t get a lot of exercise–okay, I don’t get any–but I also sleep a lot, and have ever since I stopped working full-time and going to school.

My husband survives on much less sleep, although he often complains of being too tired. But he’s averaging five hours of sleep a night. He’s working full-time and chooses to get up early because he wants time to himself in the morning. But he’s also a night owl. I used to be, but now I konk out by 10:30 or 11. I read for awhile and then I’m gone. Every few nights I have trouble falling asleep and may lie awake till 3 or 4 a.m. But the next night I’m back to my extended sleep pattern.

I don’t have narcolepsy–I’m not tired or sleepy during the day, although I do take naps every once in a while. What I probably am is bored. The thing is, I really enjoy sleeping. I have very vivid dreams and I get the feeling that sometimes I keep myself asleep so that I can keep on dreaming them. On nights when I don’t like my dreams I tend to get up earlier.

I didn’t list a “sleep project” for 2009, but I guess this could be included in my “body project.” I’ll try getting up earlier and see how I feel. I may be underusing my body by sleeping too much as well as by not exercising. I need to do both and if I sleep less, I’ll have more time to exercise. (As if.) We’ll see how it pans out.


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