The “oversleeping” “problem”

When that day arrives and my cold body is lowered into the ground, one of the final remembrances concerning your dearly departed blogger will assuredly not be:

Socially Extinct was a great man, but he slept too much.

Fuck that. Ain’t happening.

What relevant, working person, in today’s shitshow society of 24-7 digitally enhanced productivity, ever has this problem?


A new study suggests that yes, getting nine or more hours of sleep per night might also be unhealthy. Researchers from around the world gathered data from 116,632 people in 21 countries, each of whom they followed for about 7.8 years to see whether the amount they slept correlated with their overall risk of mortality (their likelihood of dying during the course of the study). They published their results in the European Heart Journal, which showed what epidemiologists call a J-shaped curve. The phenomenon refers to there being a point in a graph of mortality where the risk is minimized. In this case, that’d be right around eight hours of sleep. As you head down on the chart toward fewer hours of sleep, the risk of death increases for a whole host of reasons, but there’s also a rising risk as you increase the amount of sleep. And they’re not the only ones to find the J-shape. Other studies have also found that people who get nine or more hours of rest each night seem to have higher rates of mortality,

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that more sleep is causing more death. Sometimes a curve is J-shaped because of some other confounding factor.

Ah, but there are some people who specifically oversleep. One demographic it’s better to avoid if possible.

Think of an adult you know who sleeps 10 hours a day. Is that a healthy person? Probably not. Experts like Matthew Walker, the director of the sleep and neuroimaging lab at the University of California, Berkeley, have discussed how various diseases and chronic ailments might prompt someone to sleep more yet also put them at higher risk of death. He discusses studies like this one in his book, Why We Sleep, in which he points out that “should you explore those studies in detail, you learn that the causes of death in individuals sleeping nine hours or longer include infection (e.g., pneumonia) and immune-activating cancers.” Serious illnesses like these prompt a person to sleep more, he points out, and thus “the illusion created is that too much sleep leads to an early death, rather than the more tenable conclusion that the sickness was just too much despite all efforts to the contrary from the beneficial sleep extension.”

I cannot remember the last time I slept 8 hours when I wasn’t afflicted with:

The flu

A hangover

Mm. That’s it.

Much like the distant past when obesity was a status indicator of wealth and luxuriance, oversleeping is that now. We’ll sleep when we’re dead and the elitist oligarchy signs off on our final contribution.