You probably have heard countless times that if you don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to a host of health issues. But what about oversleeping? Well, it turns out that it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. Excessive sleepiness might be a sign of different medical issues. What’s more, getting too much sleep can even lead to health risks.
National Sleep Foundation recommendations on how many hours of sleep we should get according to our age:
- newborn baby 14 – 17 hours (including naps)
- infants 12 – 15 hours (including naps)
- toddlers 11 – 14 hours (including naps)
- preschool-age children 10 – 13 hours
- school-age children 9 – 11 hours
- teenagers 8 – 10 hours
- adults 7 – 9 hours
- seniors 7 – 8 hours
Possible Causes of Oversleeping
Oversleeping is called hypersomnia or “long sleeping” and it affects about 2 percent of people. People with hypersomnia might need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night to feel their best.
Due to their responsibilities, long sleepers may not get their much-needed sleep during workdays and end up feeling very tired. They might compensate in their days-off with sleeping as much as 15 hours at a time.
You may experience hypersomnia as a result of frequent waking up in the night. You might not remember waking up, but it can prevent you from getting deep sleep.
For people that have hypersomnia, they usually have it since childhood.
If you haven’t experienced oversleeping since childhood, and you experience it now, it might indicate that you are not getting enough rest. Also, there are other health conditions that might cause you to oversleep, like
- thyroid issues
- heart disease
- sleep apnea
- certain medications
Moreover, hypersomnia can cause the following complications:
- low energy
- memory problems
Even if you don’t have a sleep disorder, if you oversleep frequently you can experience a negative impact on your health, such as:
- back pain
- heart disease
- increased risk of death
How is Oversleeping Diagnosed?
If your symptoms of sleepiness last more than 6 weeks, you should consult your doctor. He will probably ask you questions about your sleep and lifestyle habits, medications, and health history. You may have a physical exam and perhaps you will be asked to participate in a sleep study.
In case your oversleeping cannot be connected to other medical conditions, your doctor may recommend the following:
Rate your sleepiness on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, so your doctor can evaluate how sleep influences your everyday life.
Keep a sleep diary. You’ll need to write when you fall asleep, when you wake and how often you wake. This is for your doctor to look for sleep amounts and patterns. You need to keep a sleep diary for at least a week, so it can be of value to your doctor.
Take a polysomnogram. For this, you’ll need to stay overnight at a sleep center. You will be attached to a monitor that will measure brain activity, eye movement, leg movement, heart rate, and more while you are asleep.
Take a multiple sleep latency test, this one is usually done the day after a polysomnogram. You’ll need to take a nap, and the test measures your sleep.
In case your oversleeping is caused by an underlying health issue, the treatment of the issue will probably help you to start sleeping normally. Of course, you will also benefit from lifestyle changes that address poor sleep habits.
There are things you can try to improve your sleeping habits like keeping a sleep diary and sleep schedule.