Excessive sleeping – hypersomnia – how is that even a problem?
You’ve heard it for years – get enough sleep! For the average Joe/Josie, getting the adequate amount of sleep is hard enough. But can you sleep too much? The truth is getting too little or too much sleep are opposite sides of the same coin. And both can be dangerous to your health.
Hypersomnia (the opposite of insomnia, which is too little sleep) is the clinical term for excessive sleep. It may be connected to a mental health issue such as depression. Or it could be a signal you’re suffering from poor quality sleep, which can be a sign of a clinical sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea or narcolepsy. If you’re sleeping too much, you face the same health risks as someone who suffers from insomnia: heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and cognitive issues including difficulty with memory. Clearly, oversleeping isn’t something to ignore.
Hypersomnia’s core symptoms include:
- Regularly sleeping for more 7-8 hours nightly
- Difficulty waking up in the morning, which includes consistently sleeping through an alarm
- Trouble rising from bed and starting the day
- Grogginess on and off or consistently throughout the day
- Trouble concentrating
So how much sleep is too much?
Sleep experts agree that there’s no gold standard of sleep that applies to everyone at every stage of life. Your sleep needs are unique and based on number of factors that will change throughout your life.
- Your genetics. Your unique genes influence both your circadian rhythms and your internal sleep drive, the two primary biological sleep systems.
- Your age. In your twenties, 7 hours of sleep each night may feel adequate but in your fifties, 8 hours is the new must-have goal.
- Your activity level. Simply put, sleep is energy as well as a time for the mind and body to recover from the previous day. The more active you are, the more sleep you’ll likely need.
- Your health. When you’re fighting the flu or a cold, you’ll likely need more sleep than when you’re in top shape. And if you have long-term or chronic conditions, such as arthritis or cancer, you’ll need extra sleep.
- Your life circumstances. Periods of stress (even good stress) and change can often increase your need for sleep – or make it more difficult to sleep. When stress becomes chronic and affects long-term sleep patterns, the risk to your health increases as well.
Most people, regardless of their life situation, need 6-10 hours of sleep each night – though the majority of us fall in the 7-9 hour window. If you’re sleeping more or less, it might be time to consult a doctor to see if there’s anything else going on.
What can you do if you think you’re sleeping too much?
If you think you’re sleeping too much or you’re exhausted all the time (regardless of how much you sleep), your doctor is your first line of defense. If your sleep patterns have changed, including an increase of tiredness, it’s important to share that information with a medical professional.
If there’s an underlying medical issue, you and your doctor can work to address both that condition and your oversleeping. To help your doctor, consider keeping a sleep diary. Record the amount of hours slept every night for 2 weeks. In the diary, note how you felt after sleeping. Did you feel well rested? Were there times you felt exhausted during the day? Use this information to track your patterns and assist in planning a better sleep routine.
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- Trick yourself into becoming a morning person
- Is there a difference between weekday and weekend sleep?
- Learn how to sleep like an athlete and enjoy a Olympic health boost