In Washington Irving's classic tale, Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years; when he awoke, he was confused and creaky. No wonder! Getting too much sleep is associated with everything from Alzheimer's disease and depression to diabetes and heart disease.
What triggers hypersomnia, or oversleeping? New research shows that for some it's caused by a dysfunction of GABA, a sleep-inducing brain chemical that, when supercharged, acts like anesthesia. But for most people, oversleeping is the result of too little or erratic sleep — in other words, exhaustion.
Sleep apnea, excessive snoring, lack of daytime physical activity, stress, and having a computer, cellphone, or TV in your bedroom are common causes of poor sleeping habits that lead to oversleeping. But you can change that.
Your body clock wants you to sleep soundly at night so hormones that control metabolism and chemicals that repair cellular damage can do their work. To keep the clock ticking:
• Eat at regular times; sleep in complete darkness; and get as much sunlight (without tanning or burning) as possible.
• Reset your bedtime. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights; stick with the hour-earlier bedtime for another week. Repeat as needed over a couple of months.
• Find solutions for snoring or sleep apnea, from changing position, losing weight, abstaining from alcohol, or using a sleep aid called CPAP to correct breathing problems.
Good sleep will help you lose weight and cut down on those sugar cravings.
© 2013 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.