This is a work in progress on too much sleep. I am trying to treat the topic as completely as possible as I went through this for the last several years and would like to share the knowledge I have gained so that it might expedite help for others. What took me years to learn might be able to be learned in a evening of reading once this is done and it may help that person get relief or on their way to relief much sooner and rid themselves of the troubles that sleeping too much brings. Understand that I am not a doctor and I am not even a professional trained in any field related to medicine of any kind so please take my words as stuff that I have learned by my own experience. It may not be the same for you and sometimes I am just repeating what was told to me because my excessive sleep was of a particular kind brought on by only one of what could have been many causes so what was the case for me may not be the case for you. Seek professionals to help you with what is called hypersomnia but is more commonly called sleeping too much.
Is there such a thing as too much sleep?
This question ‘is there such a thing as too much sleep”, is a persistent one and one that seems to be so subjective but it is subjective because until now there was not enough scientific evidence to prove what is the more ideal amount of sleep or even if there was such a thing as too much sleep.
Yes, there is scientific proof that there is such a thing as too much sleep. There have been multiple studies done that clearly indicate that sleeping too much can be just as detrimental as sleeping too little. One such study was conducted by Daniel Kripke, co-director of research at the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in La Jolla, Calif.,
Read more about this too much sleep study
in that study that was not even on the topic of sleep but in fact he was studying the death rates on one million Americans and as a part of this study conducted for cancer prevention, the participants reported their sleep habits. Because this study was so large as studies go he found lots of secondary information like that on too much sleep.
His study found that those people that reported living between 6.5 and 7.5 hours of sleep a night lived the longest. He uncovered the fact that there was just as much risk from sleeping too long as there was from sleeping too little. Finally another discovery that came from this study was that 8.5 hours could be just as detrimental as 5 hours of sleep.
I have found that this study has been confirmed in several other smaller studies and the results seem to be consistent. There is even antidotal evidence I have experienced in my own life and that is after I have slept way too long I wake up feeling more tired that I should after a good night’s sleep. My guess is it is my body’s way of telling me that there is something wrong with what I am doing.
The evidence presented here and more importantly the repeated confirmation of this evidence strongly points to the fact that sleeping too much does exist as a malady and that there are many associated problems that make it unhealthy to practice regularly.
Definition of what is too much sleep
I think we have sort of already covered what my officially be termed the parameters of too much sleep but to take this a step further I thought back about what happed to me when I was suffering from too much sleep. I was definitely lethargic. Even though I slept for some 11-12 hours in a day I would wake up with no energy and not have much motivation to do much of anything. It was this that I think more than anything at least as far as my behavior (disregarding underlying causes) that kept me caught in this cycle of sleeping entirely too much. I just didn’t have the energy to get up and start anything so out of boredom I guess I would just go to sleep and just stay there. The definition of what is too much sleep besides the hours discussed from the study we talked about in the last section was that it is enough sleep that causes a person to lose motivation and be tired even when they get up from a marathon sleep session.
Side Effects and Symptoms Of Too Much Sleep
Another question that is not unusual for me to here when people find out that I have had and sometime still have a problem with too much sleep is ‘will too much sleep make me tired’ or ‘what if I get too much sleep” or “what were the effects of getting too much sleep for you’? These are all very understandable when people come face to face with the disorder that many have never even heard of before. My experience with the symptoms were that I did not feel good from too much sleep. It’s pretty simple really-didn’t feel good I had headaches sometimes and I was tired after too much sleep. Of course the clinical trials and studies scientists have done show more than just those kinds of side effects but as far as my problem that was primarily it. As I’ve discussed here before just the lethargic feeling that overwhelmed me as well as the headaches and sometimes even body aches would accompany the excessive sleep.
For a more scientific approach to side effects and symptoms of too much sleep let’s turn to a study that was done in London by Prof. Francisco Cappuccio at the University of Warwick’s medical school. The researchers at the college studied over 10,000 government employees ‘sleeping habits for nine years from 1985 until 2004. As was expected those government employees who did not get enough sleep had health related issues but the surprise finding was that those who have too much sleep also suffered with a higher mortality rate.
Is normally recommend that adults get about seven hours of sleep a night and that those who sleep less run the risk of several different health related issues but in the East people who were studied it was found that when they raised the number of hours slept from 7 to 8 there was a more than two times higher mortality rate.
For me that is enough motivation in itself to work on the issue of the correct amount of sleep required each night. There are several less documented side effects of sleeping to much that I have heard of and may indicate if you in fact may also be experiencing some of the side effects yourself. These are not things that I have gathered from scientific papers but are in fact just other symptoms that have been reported in forums and online discussion groups that I’ve monitored.
• Low blood pressure
• Reduced sex drive
• Dry mouth
• Lack of desire
• Unhealthy skin
• Loss of appetite
• Weight gain
• Sore joints
• Back and neck aches
• High blood pressure
• Slow healing of wounds
• Reduced strength
All these symptoms could be attributed to a myriad of causes and should not necessarily indicate a legitimate real side effect of too much sleep.
What Causes Too Much Sleep
As with any malady there can be many causes that lead to the same result. These causes are not 100% and there is even question about their validity. Medicine is an art as well as a science. The human body is so complex that sometimes it takes the experience of the suffer in conjunction with the experience of the attending professional to root out these causes. When I first visited my family physician we had a really hard time putting together any cause for my oversleeping and after the obvious cause did not jump out at either of us my doctor suggested that I keep a journal to see if we could get to the root cause for me. There were several false starts as it was really hard to remember to write everything down because I didn’t (and the doctor didn’t) even know what to have me write down. Once I started to get serious about recording stuff it started to get a little easier. I would record anything I could think of and the value of that was that it would make me think of everything I was doing and investigate the possibility of that being the cause of my sleep overload.
I would write down how often I went to the bathroom, I would record the balance of protein compared to carbs in my diet, I would record when I had sex and for how long. I thought about what was going on in my life to a degree that I had never considered before. All this journaling in my case did not help but it did serve as a very interesting exercise that turned out to be quite revealing. I learned that I eat a lot of protein. I learned I go to the bathroom on average 7 times a day. 4 of those times are in the morning. I drink 3.2 cups of coffee a day but they are only 3oz cups and I have sex on average every 2.7 days. I bet you can’t tell me that much about those topics. Interesting trivia but no sleep cause.
There are several common causes that come up over and over in the literature that I have read about excessive sleep. Here are a few of them that occur often. Sleep Apnea is a common cause written about a lot. This one makes a lot of sense to me and I figured it was what was causing my excessive sleep but it turned out not to be the case for me. That is where a person will stop breathing for some period of time during the night until they wake from the lack of oxygen to start breathing again. It causes the rest they get to not be very good and in turn they will need to sleep longer. Plus the compound the matter they have a hard time reaching a deep level of sleep and so the sleep they get is not of high quality either.
Narcolepsy is another problem that comes up a lot when sleeping too much is discussed; it is a disease where people will just arbitrarily fall asleep when they are going about their lives. It can be mild where they just seem to fall asleep quickly and often and there are other cases that are more severe where it doesn’t even matter what they are doing… they just go to sleep. My uncle had a mild case of narcolepsy and only twice did I ever see it affect him. It was a little scary both times when it happened as he just kind of collapsed. Almost like he passed out, in fact, that is what I thought had happened but it was not the case at all. He fell asleep. The first time he was walking toward the bedroom to lay down for a while as he needed his nap and right there in the hall he just went to the floor and went to sleep for a few seconds. Like I said his was a mild case and he did need to sleep a lot and had very odd sleep patterns but the incidence like I described were very rare for him.
The symptoms of Narcolepsy are:
- Falling asleep during the day or at unusual times
- Being more sleepy during the what for most are waking hours
- Hard time often sleeping at night
- There have been some that have hallucinations
- Normal behavior can be automatic
- Sudden, temporary loss of control of muscle (called Cataplexy)
- Sometimes there will be vision problems
The causes for too much sleep are elusive but another one that comes up often when trying to diagnose a cause for too much sleep is depression. This one is what was ultimately diagnosed for me. Because I was depressed (and didn’t even know it) I was probably hiding in my sleep to avoid what I really should have been dealing with. It easy to see how depression would cause you to want to sleep a lot. Your energy is already low and depression can cause you to lose all drive so it really does go hand in hand. The good news about finding this out is that there are ways to treat depression and once you know that is the problem treatment can commence at once.
It really is important that you deal with the over sleeping problem as soon as you can because there are serious side effects of too much sleep and ones that can even be life threating.
NEXT: Side effects of too much sleep
To be continued…