In a world where so many people constantly struggle to get enough sleep after the day’s hustle and bustle, the issue of sleeping too much might seem like a luxury problem, but regardless it can be a problem still.
Oversleeping or Hypersomnia is a kind of sleeping disorder, it poses a threat to the mental health of an individual, and can be a sign and also a cause of depression and other critical health conditions.
Sleeping too much is in fact linked to many of the same health risks as for insomnia (sleeping too little). Some of the similarities between hypersomnia and insomnia are the health complications they are linked with, such as; heart disease, depression, and anxiety, etc.
What are the core symptoms of hypersomnia?
- Sleeping for extended hours at night (typically well beyond the 7-8-hour general norm)
- Difficulty waking up in the morning (including sleeping through an alarm)
- Trouble rising from bed and starting the day
- Grogginess on and off or consistently throughout the day
- Trouble concentrating
However, due to individual differences, it is important to identify what sleeping pattern works best for you. What you consider as hypersomnia might not be for the next individual. There is no single right amount of sleep that applies to everyone.
How can you tell exactly how much sleep is too much for you?
There are a few factors to consider when trying to decide if you might have Hypersomnia. Here are some of them:
- Individual genetics: Your genes can influence the two primary, biological sleep systems, which are your circadian rhythms (a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle) and your internal sleep drive.
- Age: Depending on your stage of life, you might require it may be normal for you to have slightly longer hours of sleep. For example, you may find you need 7 hours of sleep in your 20s, and 8 hours or 9 hours in your 50s or 60s.
- Activity level: Sleep is a form of energy for the body and mind, and gives time for the body to recover from exertion. The more active you are, the more sleep you may need.
- Health: When coping with health issues, you may very often need additional rest. This applies to short-term illnesses like colds and flu, as well as long-term or chronic conditions, from arthritis to cancer.
- Life circumstances: Stressful periods and periods of change can temporarily increase your need for sleep. If stress is chronic, it can create a chronic sleep debt. It’s not just negative or unwelcome life events that can drive up a need for sleep, big life changes that are positive can demand more sleep too.
What are the health risks of sleeping too much?
- Obesity: Sleeping too much or too little could make you weigh too much, as well. One recent study showed that people who slept for 9 or 10 hours every night were 21% more likely to become obese over a six-year period, than people who slept between 7 and 8 hours. The association between sleep and obesity remained the same even when food intake and exercise were taken into account.
- Headaches: For some people prone to headaches, sleeping longer than usual on a weekend or vacation can cause head pain. Researchers believe this is due to the effect oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. People who sleep too much during the day and disrupt their nighttime sleep may also find themselves suffering from headaches in the morning.
- Depression: Although insomnia is more commonly linked to depression than oversleeping is, roughly 15% of people with depression sleep too much. This may in turn make their depression worse. That’s because regular sleep habits are important to the recovery process
- Heart disease : a recent nurses’ health study involving nearly 72,000 women, showed that women who slept 9 to 11 hours per night were 38% more likely to have coronary heart disease than women who slept eight hours. Although researchers have not yet identified a reason for the connection between oversleeping and heart disease.
What can you do to avoid oversleeping?
Here are some tips you can follow to ensure your body gets just the right amount of sleep, and not too much
- Set an alarm or two.
- Get to bed before midnight – the 90-minute sleep phase before midnight is very rejuvenating and will help to prevent morning fatigue, which causes people to stay in bed longer than normal.
- Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of rising – People who eat breakfast are more likely to wake with energy and habitually eating breakfast increases metabolism (and promotes better sleep at night).
- Drift off to sleep thinking of something that you’re looking forward to the next day. No matter how small the thing is, it’ll have you motivated to get up the next day.
- Withdraw consciously from technology to enable your sleep to hit deeper levels so you wake up more refreshed.
- Deal with emotional troubles which might be causing you to escape into sleep and pull the duvet over your head.
- Address the true sources of your fatigue – do you need to exercise more? Eat more healthily? Get a new job? Leave that toxic relationship?
- Live a meaningful and purposeful life – know what you care about and do it. People who have a purpose tend to wake up with energy.
If you seem to be doing everything right and still find yourself sleeping excessively, you should talk to a doctor online with the Tremendoc app. The doctor can assess your symptoms and let you know if your excessive sleep might be linked to any health conditions you may not be aware of.