Back when I was an undergrad, I was once so sleep-deprived during finals week that I fell asleep on the bus — standing up. While it was kind of a badge of honor at the time, looking back, I realize now how incredibly unhealthy that was. Now, I'm much more careful to stick to a bedtime schedule that would make any old lady proud, and I think my overall well-being is much better for it. But, as I fall more in love with getting a great night's rest, I have to wonder, is 10 hours of sleep too much? Or can I just snooze away to my heart's content? According to experts, if you're regularly clocking in that much sleep at night, it might not be the best thing for your health.
"Normal sleep is typically considered to be around seven hours each night," Martin Reed, a certified clinical sleep health expert and founder of Insomnia Coach, tells Elite Daily over email. "Once someone sleeps for longer than around nine hours, they are considered to be long sleepers."
While a lie-in on a Saturday morning after a night out with your friends isn't something to worry about, Reed suggests seeking medical guidance if sleeping for 10 hours each night becomes the norm. "If you regularly sleep for long periods of time," he explains, "it’s best to talk to your doctor since excessive sleep duration is linked to health issues such as sleep apnea and heart disease." Again, though, a night of marathon snoozing every once in a while is just your body's way of getting back on track, Reed explains.
But playing catch-up definitely shouldn't be a regular thing for you, if at all possible, according to Dr. Rita Aouad, a sleep medicine specialist and psychiatrist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. You can make up for lost sleep on weekends by sleeping in, but should you? "No," Aouad tells Elite Daily in an email. "You should aim to keep a regular sleep schedule during the week and weekends to prevent a sleep deficit during the week and rebound hypersomnia [aka a condition characterized by extreme daytime sleepiness] on the weekends." Consistently varying your sleep times can not only lead to stress, she explains, but it can also cause problems with your hormones, appetite, mood, and attention.
According to research published in the European Heart Journal of Acute Cardiovascular Care, which analyzed 19 different studies including more than 800,000 total participants, sleeping either under seven hours each night or over nine hours can significantly increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In other words, staying in the sweet spot of seven to nine hours of sleep per night seems to be your best bet, particularly in terms of life expectancy and heart health.
If you don't have a clinical sleep problem, sleep disruption and exhaustion can potentially be signs of serious stress in your life, says Pip Waller, a medical herbalist, holistic healer, and author of the book Deeply Holistic. One super simple way to relieve extra stress is to give yourself permission to cry, she explains. "Tears are the only way stress hormones can leave your body whole without the liver having to metabolize them, so let them flow," she tells Elite Daily in an email.
As long as you're in that magical two-hour window, sleep as much as your heart desires — just make sure that sleep isn't happening while you're standing up on a bus.