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Causes of Sleeping Too Much

A Guide on the Causes, Effects, and Prevention of Sleeping Too Much

Sleep is considered to be the most blissful thing that rejuvenates us from our day-to-day stress and strain. However, it is said that too much of anything is bad, and excessive sleeping too has its ill effects on the body. Elucidated in this write-up are a few reasons and effects of sleeping too much.
Poushali Ganguly
Last Updated: Apr 16, 2018
We All Snooze!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, around 41.4% people nod off or fall asleep unintentionally at least once during the day.

If you do not get enough sleep, you will feel tired and exhausted the whole day. Some people find it hard to sleep during the night, and instead use the day to get some rest. Sleep has the power to revitalize the human body, but if you get less or too much sleep, your body will not respond positively.

The average sleeping time for an adult is eight hours. There are several causes as to why a person sleeps too much -- a condition medically termed as hypersomnia or oversleeping. However, some common causes are stress, lack of self-discipline, and poor sleep in a span of a couple of days. These are some of the temporary causes that can be taken care of with a little willpower and determination. But there are some causes which need to be dealt with clinically, and are not as simple as the temporary ones.

Causes of Oversleeping

Sleep Apnea
Apnea is a Greek term, which means to stop breathing. It is a sleep-related breathing disorder which most commonly affects adults, and is defined with multiple respiratory interruptions or pauses while sleeping. These apneas (pauses) can be of ten seconds or sometimes more when the snoozer completely stops breathing, and this can occur dozens or occasionally up to hundreds of times every night. This condition not only interrupts good quality of sleep, but it is also considered to be a grave and life-threatening sleep disorder. This is because, with due course of time, frequent breaks in the oxygen supply to the brain might result in a heart attack, high blood pressure, or even a stroke. Some of the symptoms of this disorder are dozing off (irrespective of the place), heavy snoring, and headaches in the mornings. The treatment involves certain clinical therapies and lifestyle changes. Sleep apneas are of the following two peculiar kinds:

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) - The brain usually forgets to signal the body to breathe while sleeping. It is not very common, and mostly happens as a result of some serious illness related to the spine or the heart.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) - The airway is blocked, leading to interrupted breathing - a more common type of disorder.

Unlike sleep apnea, narcolepsy is a neurological disorder which affects a particular part of the brain, which is the control of wakefulness and sleep. It is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and uncontrollable episodes of sleep attacks. People who suffer from narcolepsy fail to identify and distinguish between the time to sleep and the time to remain awake. Such people can fall asleep anywhere and anytime. It is often considered to be a hereditary condition, and it actually changes the lifestyle of a person, where clinical help is a must. A patient of narcolepsy might fall asleep for a few seconds or even an hour, and when these individuals wake up, they feel refreshed and energetic, though this feel-good effect does not last for long. They start feeling sleepy and drowsy again. It is said that narcoleptic patients lack the protein hypocretin -- a neurotransmitter which signals the body to fall asleep.

Most of the time, other than insomnia, oversleeping is somewhat directly proportionate to depression. Once you wake up from a deep, satisfied sleep, and yet you feel like sleeping again, it is a probable sign of depression. Sleep gives your mind a short break from feeling blue, as it acts as an opiate. The symptoms of depression differ in every individual - a few prefer hiding in bed. A few other indicants of depression would be extreme loss or gain of weight and appetite, feeling of loneliness and detachment, amongst others. Talk to your therapist if you feel low and sad most of the time.

Hypersomnia can sometimes be a withdrawal symptom of some type of medication. Besides, medicaments prescribed in order to cure another ailment might make a person drowsy and feel the need to sleep all the while. Sometimes, drug abuse, alcohol, and even caffeine might make a person sleep more than the required amount. In such a case, one needs to check the medications they are taking, and avoid the intake of alcohol or caffeine.

Poor Diet
A poor diet or eating a little amount of food can make a person feel tired and sluggish. Eating unhealthy or junk food can lead to drowsiness, and one might feel like napping after a heavy meal. Hence, one needs to follow a diet rich in nutrients, include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in it, and cut down on the intake of junk and greasy food.

Infants and small children often keep parents up all night, and this leads to the constant feeling of being sleepy through the day, for the parent that is. Parental assistance prevents a person's body from calming down and relaxing. Even though the parent is sleeping, the subconscious mind remains alert and waits for the kids' call, and this eventually results in excessive sleep.

Ill Effects of Oversleeping

Obesity and Weight Gain
A particular study suggests that people who slept for long hours had around 20% higher risk of being obese than the ones who did not. In this case, the prescribed diet and exercise regime was same for both, excessive sleepers and normal ones.

Individuals who overslept had about 50% more chances of acquiring diabetes as compared to the ones who slept for the recommended amount of time per night. This fact was concluded in a study of around 9,000 Americans. Also, the risk of developing diabetes is similar in people who sleep for less than five hours every night.

A Few More
Sleeping much more than the recommended number of hours can lead to many more health problems. Mentioned below are a few more side effects of oversleeping.

↬ Back pain
↬ Headache
↬ Lethargy
↬ High blood pressure
↬ Coronary heart troubles

Plenty of studies and theories have come to the conclusion that the death rate in individuals who sleep for 9 hours or more every night is higher than the rest. However, there has been no particular reasoning for this excess sleep and death relationship.

How to Prevent This Habit

  • Set your alarm clock to one fixed time, preferably a little earlier than you actually want to get up. Maintain this schedule everyday, as this would make your mind and body sleep and get up when it is supposed to. To curb the temptation of hitting the snooze button of the alarm clock, place it far away from the bed. This makes it mandatory for you to physically get up to turn the alarm off.
  • Avert from the habit of napping during the day. Reason being, this can disrupt the circadian rhythms - the biological time of the body, making it difficult to sleep on time at night, and eventually leading to excessive sleeping. 
Apart from the above-mentioned tricks, here are a few more tips to help you:

↬ Keep repeating to yourself that you will wake up as soon as the alarm goes off.
↬ Find a refreshing reason to wake up as per schedule everyday.
↬ Gradually decrease the amount of sleeping time.
↬ Do not overexert yourself during the day.
↬ Exercise regularly.
↬ Preferably take a cold shower everyday.
↬ Stick to a light and healthy breakfast.

Recommended Hours of Daily Sleep
Age Required Sleep
0 - 2 Years 16 hours
3 - 12 Years 10 hours
13 - 18 Years 9 hours
19 - 55 Years 8 hours
55 - 65 Years 7 hours
66 & Above 6 hours

If you tend to exceed the recommended sleeping hours, and are suffering from any mental or physical side effects of this condition, then book an appointment with your doctor ASAP. He/she will prescribe some medications and advice on healthy lifestyle habits. This will help you reestablish regular and good sleeping habits, which are vital in order to lead a healthy life.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.