Health: true or false?

Can you get too much sleep? And is it bad for you?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 January, 2015, 6:35am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2015, 1:04pm

Q: Can you have too much sleep?

The straight answer: Yes

The facts: Believe it or not, there is such a thing as getting too much sleep. While the occasional lie-in is generally harmless, you should watch out if you find yourself needing more than 10 or 11 hours of sleep a night over an extended period of time.

"Sleep is good for your health, and a lack of sleep is linked with many health conditions," says Dr Shirley Kwee, a general practitioner from Raffles Medical in Singapore.

"But the opposite can also cause multiple health issues, such as an increased risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, and can be indicative of an underlying medical or psychological condition.

"Studies have shown that people who oversleep have a 38 per cent higher risk of cardiac disease. It is also linked with higher rates of depression and lethargy," Kwee says.

But how do you know if you're sleeping your way to an unhealthy future? After all, some of us require more sleep than others.

Kwee says that the stage of life we are in, our general health, and our activity level are all factors that determine the amount of sleep we need. If you're a normal healthy adult, experts recommend that you get six to eight hours a night.

Anything more than thisover a long period of time is a sign that you're sleeping too much, in which case Kwee suggests you see a doctor to find out if you have underlying health issues.

If you get the recommended hours of sleep per night, but still feel tired when you wake up, you may want to look at your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, as these can affect your quality of sleep.

Kwee also warns that, while replenishing lost sleep by sleeping in at the weekend is common in big cities, it may not fully restore energy levels, or help your immune system.

"Sleeping in on the weekends will not make up for all the late nights you pulled during the week. Of course, if you are extremely stressed or sick then your body may signal that it needs a little extra rest, in which case you should listen to it," Kwee says.