It’s a welcome break to have a morning without the buzz of an alarm clock that jolts you awake. Since those days are few and far between, many people take advantage of a little “me time” to sneak in a few extra hours of ZZZs. It’s commonly discussed that too little sleep can be harmful, but is getting too much sleep bad for you?
A study by the National Sleep Foundation finds that different people need different amounts of sleep. For healthy adults, the average is seven to nine hours. Kids and teens need anywhere between nine and 15, depending on their age. And older adults need only around seven to eight hours.
According to Dr. Susan M. Mucha, a sleep physician with Piedmont Physicians Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine in Atlanta, there are some people who naturally need more or less than the average.
“There are long-sleepers who sleep 10 hours or 11, and if they get 11 they are perfect,” she said. For the most part, studies suggest that otherwise healthy long-sleepers don’t suffer any ill effects from getting too much sleep, she added.
Too much sleep can be concerning if despite getting a lot of sleep, you still feel tired all the time. Never feeling rested can signal a disorder like sleep apnea, in which people stop and start breathing while sleeping, an affliction that is thought to affect more than 170 million people in the Americas alone. Excessive sleep can also be an unexpected sign of an unhealthy heart or a symptom of another health condition
For the most part, if you’re someone who constantly sleeps a couple extra hours but wakes up feeling refreshed each day, chances are good that you’re just a long-sleeper and can rest easy.
If your sleep habits have unexpectedly changed, though, or you’re concerned about how much you sleep, contact your doctor, who may recommend a sleep study to identify any underlying problems. Otherwise, dream on. Getting too much shut-eye is better than these things that can happen when you don’t get enough sleep.