We Love Our Beauty Rest, But Sleeping Too Much May Be Detrimental

Look, you don't wanna mess with sleep. We all love being in bed. It's warm, it's comfy, it's snuggly, and it's where we do all our best dreaming! On top of having the best action-adventure dreams, sleeping is also one of the best ways to boost your mood and improve your mental health. A good night's sleep is associated with better brain function, emotional wellness, and resilience to get through the day, per PsyCom

Getting all of your zzz's is also associated with the fountain of youth. Even eternally-youthful Jennifer Aniston touts the benefits of sleep for looking younger in her infamous Aveeno commercials, but it's more than just a marketing ploy. Speaking with NBC News Better Health, osteopathic doctor Mikhail Varshavski admits, "Sleep is incredibly important for physical appearance. Sleep is a regenerative process where we heal and where our neurons build strong connections. It's like a fountain of youth that we dive [into] every night."

With that in mind, you might wonder if it's possible to get too much sleep. Sure, sleeping in on Saturday morning is something we all look forward to after a long week, but if we do it too often, could it be harmful? We investigate. 

If you're oversleeping, you might have an underlying health condition

The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine states that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. So what happens if you consistently sleep ten hours a night, or more? According to experts, it's not the sleep that's the issue, rather it's the possible underlying health condition that's causing you to oversleep. Neurologist David Rye, director of Emory University's Program in Sleep, told The Washington Post that he always looks for underlying medical conditions when a patient says they sleep more than the recommended hours. One of those medical conditions is hypothyroidism, where your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones to meet your needs. 

The outlet also spoke to Helene Emsellem, director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Maryland, who pointed out that excessive sleep could be a sign of a mental health issue like depression. "Sometimes people with extended sleep requirements may have low-grade depression but may not overtly feel unhappiness. They still may have [only] the neurochemical disturbances of depression."

John Hopkins Medicine links excessive sleep with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, headaches, and a higher mortality rate from a health condition, but Franco Cappuccio, professor of cardiovascular medicine and epidemiology at the University of Warwick, says these links have to be taken "with a pinch of salt" as there is always the potential for inaccuracies when study participants are asked to self-report, per BBC

There are many reasons to sleep in apart from health issues

Before you start jumping out of bed promptly at the sound of your alarm, there are also other reasons why you might sleep in. Some are temporary, explained Russell Sanna, executive director of the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine. Sanna told CNN that when we've just had a major surgery, are on the mend from a health scare, or even when we change time zones, we need to catch up on our zzz's. Kristen Knutson, a biomedical anthropologist, told The Washington Post that our college studying habits could also be the culprit. "If you've been pulling all-nighters, by all means extend your sleep on the weekend if you can; try to catch up."

Apart from these temporary needs, sometimes, oversleeping runs in the family. Yup, it's genetic, according to UCLA neurologist Alon Y. Avidan, who told the same outlet, "Some people just need more than the average amount of sleep to be functioning well the next day."

Research even suggests that a night of unbroken rest is a relatively new phenomenon. The BBC reported that up until the late 1600s, most people would wake up in the middle of the night on purpose to pray, smoke, talk, have sex, and more before going back to bed. So take comfort in knowing that if you're getting up in the middle of the night to knock boots, you're allowed to sleep in.