Is sleeping too much bad? Oversleeping problems and causes
Is sleeping too much bad? If sleep is the backbone of health, then the more sleep you get, the better, right? Not exactly.
Sleep experts recommend adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. There is a reason why they don’t suggest getting 13 or 15 hours of sleep. Even the really good things in life can be bad when done in excess.
Is it possible to oversleep?
We all know how important it is to get enough sleep. But what many of us don’t realise is that it is possible to oversleep. Hypersomnia is the clinical term for sleeping too much. It also refers to feeling excessively sleepy during the day and can be bad for your health.
There are times when getting a lot of sleep is beneficial, like when you are fighting a disease or growing a baby and need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle. Teenagers also need more sleep – between eight and ten hours of sleep.
Every person’s body is different, and you might need a little more or less sleep than your friend or partner. But this also means that you have to determine how much sleep is too much for you. Some self-experimentation is key.
Can sleeping too much make you tired?
Sleeping too much can throw your circadian rhythm out of sync and make you feel tired. Do you wake up feeling tired even after getting nine or more hours of sleep a night? Do you get sleepy in the middle of the day? Anything that disrupts your sleep pattern can cause fatigue.
If you typically sleep for seven hours a night and then sleep for ten because you think sleeping for that long will help you feel more rested, it can have the opposite effect. You might not be getting enough high-quality sleep, even though you are putting in the hours. Or, you might be getting too much sleep, which is also bad for your health.
Why am I sleeping too much?
Find out what’s causing you to sleep too much so that you can take back control of your sleep patterns and get the best quality rest.
Your oversleeping could be caused by a brief period of sleep deprivation. Perhaps you have been working late at night and have been sacrificing sleep for the sake of your career. Maybe you recently had a baby. Being sleep deprived can make you put in extra hours in bed to try and catch up. But if you overcompensate, it can also have bad side effects associated with hypersomnia. These include constant fatigue, irritability, feeling anxious, loss of appetite, difficulty with memory, and feeling restless.
You can also be deprived of sleep even if you are getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. If your sleep is frequently disrupted without you realising it, you may not be getting enough quality sleep.
Depression and sleepiness often go hand-in-hand. Sleeping too much is one of the first signs of depression. Feeling depressed can make you want to sleep more because you want to escape from your current bad reality.
Depression is also associated with inflammation in the brain. This inflammation can lead to other behaviours that are related to being sick, such as sleeping more and feeling drowsy throughout the day.
Is oversleeping a sign of a sleep disorder?
Sleeping too much and feeling sleepy could signal an underlying sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops and starts repeatedly throughout the night. It is one of the potential causes of sleeping too much because when you stop breathing, your sleep is disrupted, which means that you might end up sleeping more to get enough sleep in. Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed in a sleep clinic.
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that is characterised by five symptoms that make the acronym CHESS: cataplexy, hallucinations, excessive sleeping during the day, and sleep disruption. Not all people who have narcolepsy experience all five symptoms, but they do experience excessive daytime sleepiness.
Worried about your sleeping pattern?
If you suspect that you are sleeping too much, you can try to adjust your sleeping schedule using a sleep calculator. Go to bed a little bit later or set your alarm for earlier in the day. If you are still feeling tired, consult your GP.
You can also undergo a sleep study to help determine if there are any underlying causes. A sleep specialist will be able to give you further advice if you have a condition like sleep apnea or narcolepsy.
Sleeping too much can be bad for you, but if you have only overslept by a couple of hours a few nights in a row, the chances are that you have nothing to worry about. If you are continuously sleeping more than what is recommended for your age, it might be something you need to address.