The Snowball Effect
Hypersomnia is crippling in and of itself, but that’s not the half of it—several large-scale studies have indicated that the condition can trigger a wide range of even more debilitating symptoms.
Coronary Heart Disease
In a survey of almost seventy-two thousand women, nurses at Brigham and Women Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, identified a 38 percent greater likelihood of developing coronary heart disease among women who slept nine to eleven hours per night, compared with women who got eight hours of sleep.
A study of almost nine thousand Americans pointed to a connection between sleep and a heightened risk of diabetes, WebMD notes. While the researchers did not establish a direct link, they did discover that people who got more than nine hours of sleep per night were 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than people who slept seven hours. This discrepancy suggests that while oversleeping might not cause diabetes on its own, it could reflect underlying medical issues that lead to individuals’ susceptibility to the disease.
According to another study, people who slept nine to ten hours nightly had a 21 percent greater chance of becoming obese over the course of six years than people who slept seven to eight hours—even when the subjects’ food consumption and exercise habits were similar across the board.
Shortened Life Span
Perhaps the most alarming study of all illustrates the possibility that oversleeping leads to earlier death. In 2002, scientists from the American Cancer Society conducted the largest study to date on sleep patterns and mortality—polling 1.1 million Americans ages thirty and up over a six-year span—and found that people who slept eight hours each night were 12 percent more likely to die over the course of the study than their counterparts who slept for seven hours were; furthermore, even people who got only five hours of sleep had a longer life span than those who got eight hours or more. Based on these results, University of California, San Diego, psychiatry professor Daniel Kripke told the Independent that “individuals who now average 6.5 hours of sleep a night can be reassured that this is a safe amount of sleep. From a health standpoint, there is no reason to sleep longer.