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Hazards of oversleeping

Published:Saturday | April 28, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Dr Douglas Street, Contributor

Most of us know how important it is to get enough sleep and the dangers of inadequate sleep. Most of us also know of someone who seems to sleep like 'it's going out of style'. But did you know that consistently sleeping too much can be bad for your health?

During sleep is when the body normally repairs itself after all the wear and tear that it goes through during the day, and one has to be sleeping for about three to four hours before getting to that repairing mode of sleep. But as we Jamaicans know, 'too much of one ting good fi nutten!'

Indeed, getting too much sleep is harmful. It has been shown that getting an average of over nine hours of sleep each day, on a long-term basis, is harmful to your body. It is important to note, though, that the amount of sleep required is usually greater in the younger age groups. So, for a teenager, getting an average of nine hours sleep is healthy for him.

Also, short periods of oversleeping are unlikely to cause any harm and can, in fact, be used to prepare for a period where one is expecting inadequate sleep. So what is so harmful about oversleeping?

Oversleeping usually means less activity, which, in turn, can lead to obesity. As we know, obesity is associated with several chronic disorders. In fact, people who slept nine to 10 hours per day were found to be 21 per cent more likely to be obese over a six-year period than those who slept for seven to eight hours.

Greater risk of diabetes

Another condition that is more common among people who oversleep is diabetes. People who slept for more than nine hours each night were found to be 50 per cent more likely to become diabetic than those who slept for seven hours. Interestingly, those who slept for less than five hours each night were found to be equally at risk. The reason for this, though, is unclear.

Other conditions are also more common in this group. Heart disease is also 38 per cent more common among people who sleep for nine to 11 hours, compared with those who sleep for eight hours. And, not surprisingly, back pain and even headaches are more common among oversleepers as well. Oversleepers even seem to have a higher death rate!

To curtail this unhealthy habit, use an alarm clock, get regular exercise, and organise each day properly to improve your motivation.

Dr Douglas Street is a general practitioner and has private practices at Trinity Medical Centre, Trinity Mall at 3 Barnett Street in Montego Bay, and Omega Medical Centre at Plaza de Negril, Negril. Send feedback to