When discussing unhealthy sleeping practices, sleep deprivation is often the first thing that comes to mind. However, sleeping too much can also cause many of the same issues as lack of sleep. Here we will explore the possible causes of oversleeping and the dangers of not getting the recommended amount of sleep.
Many experts recommend specific sleeping guidelines to ensure you’re getting the right amount of sleep. While these guidelines may differ depending on the individual and their circumstances, there could be some problems if you consistently sleep outside the suggested recommendations. Here are the sleep guidelines for each age group:
- Newborns (0-3 months) : 14 -17 hours a day (including naps)
- Infants (4-12 months): 12 -16 hours a day (including naps)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours a day (including naps)
- Nursery Children (3-5 years): 10-13 hours a day (including naps)
- School Children (6-12 years): 9-12 hours a day
- Teenagers (13-17 years): 8-10 hours a day
- Adults (18-65 years): 7 - 9 hours a day
- Older Adults (65 +) : 7-8 hours a day
There are several reasons why you may be sleeping too much, and it’s helpful to identify the cause so you can take the necessary steps to overcome the issue. If oversleeping is linked to medical conditions or is negatively impacting your life, you should consider seeking professional medical advice. Here are some possible causes for oversleeping:
- Sleep Deprivation: The most common cause of oversleeping is sleep deprivation. If you’re continuously losing out on sleep, your body may need to overcompensate by sleeping too much. Sleep apnea and chronic pain can also lead to disrupted sleep and fatigue, which can cause oversleeping.
- Depression: Oversleeping or disrupted sleep can be a symptom of depression✓. It is estimated that around 15% of people suffering from depression tend to sleep too much. If this is the case, it’s worth seeking medical help or trying therapy.
- Medication: Different types of medication can cause excessive sleepiness. This can include antidepressants, antihistamines and antipsychotics. If your medication is causing sleepiness, try to avoid sleep-inducing substances, such as alcohol and certain medications with drowsy side effects.
- Obesity: Studies✓ have shown that obesity can increase daytime fatigue, which could lead to excessive nighttime sleeping or daytime napping. Moreover, obesity has been linked to sleep apnea, which can cause disrupted sleep and fatigue during the day.
- Sleep Disorders: Many sleep disorders could cause oversleeping, including sleep apnoea, narcolepsy, and insomnia. In addition, hypersomnia is a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness or oversleeping and may require medication.
Hypersomnia✓ is often referred to as excessive daytime sleepiness and is a condition where people are prone to falling asleep frequently throughout the day. Hypersomnia can often be related to other conditions, such as sleep apnoea, restless leg syndrome, depression and narcolepsy.
Individuals with hypersomnia may experience extreme tiredness, despite sleeping enough or getting more sleep than average. Those with hypersomnia may also find themselves frequently napping yet still feeling tired and unrefreshed. Other signs of hypersomnia could include irritability, restlessness, headaches, anxiety and loss of appetite.
If you think you’re suffering from hypersomnia, it’s worth speaking with a medical professional who will try to identify any possible causes or refer you to a sleep disorder specialist. In some cases, medication will be required; however, changes in sleep habits could also help reduce symptoms.
Dangers Of Sleeping Too Much
While many are aware of the dangers of not getting enough sleep, there are also several risks associated with oversleeping. It’s worth noting that many of these signs and symptoms can be attributed to both oversleeping and lack of sleep:
- Fatigue: Not getting enough sleep is often associated with fatigue; however, too much sleep can also make you feel more tired. This is due to disruptions in sleep cycles and patterns, which can cause you to feel groggy and tired during the day.
- Obesity: Sleeping too much has been linked to obesity and weight gain. A study✓ spanning several years found that longer sleepers were 25% more likely to put on 11 pounds over six years than average sleepers.
- Inflammation: The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock which helps us know when to sleep and awaken. The circadian rhythm is also connected to the immune system, so if the rhythm is disrupted by sleeping too much, the immune functions can also be disrupted, and this can increase inflammation✓.
- Heart Disease: Research✓ has found that too much sleep can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Experts believe this is likely due to heightened inflammation which can occur when you engage in unhealthy sleep practices.
- Diabetes: Those who sleep too much or too little can have poorer blood glucose control than those who sleep within the recommended times. This can make individuals with a high risk of prediabetes more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Tips To Stop Oversleeping
For those who want to stop oversleeping, there are various steps you can take to encourage healthy sleep patterns, which can help prevent sleeping too much. Having a regular sleep schedule and a consistent bedtime routine can help your mind and body know when to go to sleep and wake up. Relaxing bedtime routines could include taking a hot bath, sleep meditation and avoiding technology before you go to sleep.
Moreover, if your alarm clock isn’t waking you up effectively, you can try a light alarm. These types of alarms gradually wake you up by simulating natural sunlight, which can help your internal body clock know when it’s time to awaken. Keeping a sleep journal or tracking your sleep can also allow you to recognise what habits and behaviours are helping or hindering your sleep.
To improve general sleep quality, you should also stay active during the day by engaging in regular exercise. Research✓ has found that exercise encourages increased sleep efficiency and duration, especially in middle-aged or elderly adults. It is also believed that getting enough sunlight exposure during the day can help to improve sleep quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I sleep so much?
There are several reasons why you may be sleeping too much. You may be experiencing disrupted sleep or sleep deprivation, which can cause you to compensate by oversleeping or napping during the day. Other causes include mental illness, obesity, medication or other sleep disorders.
Why am I tired after sleeping too much?
If you’re sleeping outside of the recommended guidelines, your sleep pattern can become disrupted and leave you feeling tired. Alternatively, people who suffer from hypersomnia often feel extreme tiredness despite sleeping for a sufficient amount of time.
Why am I sleeping and eating too much?
While oversleeping and overeating aren’t directly linked, they are both associated with signs of depression. Whatsmore oversleeping may disrupt appetite-controlling hormones, which could result in overeating.