Did you know that too much sleep can damage your brain?
Written by Derrick Asaba on October 18, 2021
According to health professionals, sleep is one of the things that every person should take up and value with great concern. A person is advised to sleep for at least seven to nine hours.
This notion however, seems to have been deprived of its colour over the years due to a number of reasons some of which are individually generated and others arising from the outside environment.
For instance, with the presence of the pandemic which led to closure of several businesses and shut down most of the employment routes, created a wide gap in human sleep behaviour.
Not only can this be leaned onto the pandemic but also to other factors like nature of jobs, time of work, sleeping during the day, insomnia and sometimes desire to make up for the lost sleep.
A number of health conditions can also lead to oversleeping and excessive daytime sleepiness for instance sleep apnoea, insomnia, narcolepsy, cardiovascular diseases, chronic pain, hypothyroidism, depression and anxiety among others.
All ways around, sleeping more than eight hours or even less has detrimental effects on one’s brain such as reducing one’s cognitive ability and reasoning skills.
Dr Rhona Osega, a psychiatrist at Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital told Record FM that when a person goes to sleep, all their body parts also sleep rendering everything to function in a slow activity.
“Whenever you sleep, even the brain tends to sleep. The heart and digestive functioning systems become slow and all the other parts of the body. And if this is done repeatedly or continuously, there can be an effect on one’s brain,” Dr Osega says.
Sleep plays an important role in the brain, as the brain clears out waste byproducts, balances neurotransmitters and processes memories at rest. At both short and long extremes, rest may have an effect on mood and mental health.
Researchers also discover that repeated long sleep could lead to permanent brain damage.
Dr Osega says that oversleeping lowers down all the activities of the body, slows down a person’s brain activity thereby leading to depression.
“So you find that a person lacks energy to do things that they are supposed to do and lack motivation. At the end of the day, they will be driven into depression. Everything looks hopeless to them and they will see no reason as to why they should wake up and do certain things,” she says.
Other medical effects linked to oversleeping
Putting the body in a state of redundancy and too much sleep repeatedly does not only have a harmful impact on a person’s brain but can also lead to the development of other complications.
Naturally, people are supposed to sleep at night so that a person is active during the day. However, when this is done the other way round, Dr Osega says it can induce insomnia and one won’t be able to sleep at night.
Repetitive oversleeping can also bring about headaches most of the time because whenever someone wants to rise up to be active they begin to have unexplained headaches due to this sleep trend.
Also, too much sleep can lead to coronary heart problems. “When one continues to have heart problems, what follows is death because at a tender age, that’s the time when someone is supposed to be very active. All the energy that they have is supposed to be used for active things,” Dr Osega explains.
She further adds that when a person cherishes long sleeps, they are suppressing this energy thereby complicating the heart. That is why whenever one wants to do something, they instead seem to strain the heart.
Because of the redundancy and too much lack of activity, people are hence pushed into sleep and thereafter get into these conditions. Other complications birthed from oversleeping are; high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and anxiety.
How can oversleeping be overcome?
Oversleeping, regardless of its negative impacts on one’s health, it can be doctored through taking up a number of strides.
According to Dr Osega, defeating oversleeping and its effects, depends on one’s mind set and attitude.
“In this COVID-19 era, most people get challenges and think that is the end of everything. Some even fail to get out of the house and stay in bed for long hours, which is very dangerous. When the two are worked on, no reason would make a person be in bed during the day when everybody is running up and down to see that they are able to improve on their lives,” Dr Osega advises.
Dr. Robert Rosenberg, a sleep medicine specialist, notes that exposing oneself to bright sunlight upon awakening and avoiding excessive naps especially after 4pm can help beat down urges to sleep longer.
Other studies show that paying close attention to one’s sleep space to make sure lights, sounds and temperatures are optimal for rest, can also help.
As with many other aspects of health, moderation tends to be key when it comes to sleep. Much is said about the dangers of too little sleep, but it seems it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.