Sleeping is considered to be one of the most important parts of our life. Research has found that proper rest is essential for a healthy mind and body. A good night’s rest does wonders for your body, mind, your performance at work and school, and other areas of interest. It helps you remain positive and energetic, keeps your mind fresh, and catalyzes a good appetite and metabolism. The body yearns for deep, restorative sleep wherein the functions slow down, and you can recharge your energy for upcoming activities.
Why is Sleep Important?
A person’s quantity and quality of sleep together make a significant difference to their quality of life. Sleeping, like eating, is part of our daily routine. Someone might be sleeping less and feeling no lethargy while another individual might get extra hours and yet feel unsatisfied and exhausted. It’s crucial to notice such acute changes in your sleep cycle. Sleeping habits may seem insignificant but are indicators of underlying concerns that need to be addressed. Oversleeping may be an outcome of physical ailments or mental health issues; both are equally vital and need to be addressed.
Ideal Amount of Sleep
It is imperative to sleep for a sufficient number of hours. Sleep is the best way to rest the body. But less sleep or oversleeping can be a cause for alarm. Here we list the ideal number of hours of sleep for different age groups:
- Newborn infants: 14-17 hours
- Babies: 12-15 hours
- Toddlers: 11-14 hours
- Kindergarten kids: 10-12 hours
- School kids: 9-11 hours
- Teenagers: 8-10 hours
- Adults or grown-ups: 7-9 hours
- Seniors or old-aged people of 65 and above: 7-8 hours
What is Oversleeping?
Before we recognize the pros and cons of oversleeping, we must understand what it refers to.
Recent reviews of research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation have broadened the spectrum of pre-specified golden hours of sleep. They state that seven to nine hours of sleep is ample and healthful for adults between the ages of 18 and 64. If someone is sleeping more than 9 hours on a daily average, the quality of sleep should be checked. If the quality of sleep is poor despite 9 hours of sleep, the body tends to elongate the time spent in bed. This is known as oversleeping or hypersomnia.
Causes of Poor Sleep Quality
Here are some possible causes of poor sleep quality:
- Environmental factors, such as light noises, chirping of birds, lights, an uncomfortable bed, etc.
- Certain medications, such as tranquilizers.
- Comorbid conditions, such as depression, anxiety and chronic pain.
- Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, bruxism, PLMD, etc.
- Thyroid or heart disease
- Extreme tiredness
- Substance abuse
- Neurological disorders
Why Sleep Cycles Differ
It should be iterated that a sleep cycle or sleep schedule is different for everyone. Certain factors determine the differences in sleep cycle:
The fundamental biological sleep systems, which are primarily circadian rhythms and internal sleep drives, are influenced by genes.
The requisite amount of sleep differs for each age group.
The more you engage in physical and mental activities, the more rest and sleep the body needs. Sleep is a way for the body to recoup from exertion.
For individuals who are coping with pre-existing health issues – whether short-term like a cold and cough or long-term like arthritis or cancer – additional sleep is required for better healing.
Certain changes or upheavals in life can cause stress or anxiety that might cause one to oversleep. On the contrary, there might be cases of chronic sleep debt where individuals face difficulty in falling asleep due to stress.
To understand that you might be oversleeping or have hypersomnia, here are a few symptoms to look out for:
- Sleeping beyond the reasonable hours of seven to eight in the morning.
- Difficulty in waking up in the morning despite an alarm.
- Trouble or difficulty in getting up from bed and starting one’s activities.
- Concentration issues.
- Consistent or infrequent sluggishness throughout the day.
It is essential to understand that oversleeping does not refer to a lazy Sunday morning or an extra snooze on the weekend but extends to sleep habits formed over a long period.
Effects of Oversleeping
Oversleeping can have many effects on the body. Some are good, and some can be detrimental to physical and mental health.
Benefits of Oversleeping
There have been instances of research showing that oversleeping might prove beneficial in specific cases.
- Extra sleep might show improved performance in people engaged in sports.
- Oversleeping has been shown to make actors feel energized and fresh.
- It results in exceptional accuracy in an athletes’ performance.
Oversleeping is also seen to have negative impacts on the body. It is seen as an indication of a prevailing illness that needs to be checked. There are several ill-effects, both physical and psychological, that hypersomnia may have on an individual’s body. Here are a few:
Oversleeping has the following effects on the body:
- It heightens the chances of developing diabetes.
- It may cause obesity.
- It can induce headaches.
- It may result in backaches.
- It might affect fertility count.
Oversleeping may induce specific psychological issues that need to be resolved:
- It may make you anxious.
- It can bring on depression by impacting serotonin levels.
- It might cause memory problems by affecting the neurotransmitters.
- It may cause a sleep hangover, which makes you silly or groggy.
- It is shown to have an association with bipolar disorder.
- It may induce irritability and crankiness.
Mental health is generally a taboo subject and yet is one of the leading reasons for suicides in adults. It is essential to talk about anxiety, depression and any other psychological difficulties. If you notice overlying hypersomnia for a long period, you must seek consultation with a medical professional.
Dealing with Hypersomnia
If you notice yourself slumbering for too long, here are certain remedies that might help you combat it:
- Try making a sleep schedule for yourself and strive to adhere to it.
- Get yourself an alarm clock and set an alarm to eliminate oversleeping.
- Try to expose yourself to natural bright lights. Ensure that your room is also filled with bright light through the day as it helps deal with symptoms of oversleeping.
- Certain medical prescriptions can alter your sleep cycle and result in oversleeping. In such a case, consult with your doctor for an alternative treatment.
- If none of these remedies work, visit a doctor to discuss your issues and test for any underlying problems.
It is always helpful to check in with a doctor or opt for online counseling to determine if you are oversleeping. There are various ways to obtain a diagnosis. If the symptoms of hypersomnia last for more than 6 weeks, it is advisable to discuss it with an online counselor or a psychotherapist. The most likely questions asked by a medical professional would cover your sleeping habits, health history, medications and lifestyle. You may have to go through a physical exam or a sleep study.
If oversleeping cannot be attributed to medical ailments, the following measures may be recommended by health professionals or online counsellors:
Maintaining a Sleep Diary
This keeps a record of your sleeping habits and would include details such as, when you fall asleep, when you wake up and how often you wake up during the night. It is advisable to keep a record for a week before visiting the doctor so that they can recognize patterns which are not normal.
Opting for a Polysomnogram Test
For a polysomnogram test, you would be required to stay in a sleep center, attached to a monitor that records or measures sleep details like brain activity, heart rate, eye and leg movements, etc.
Taking a Multiple Sleep Latency Test
Typically, a multiple sleep latency test is done a day after the polysomnogram test. It assesses your sleep as you nap through the day.
Consulting a Sleep Professional is Probably the Best Option
If oversleeping or hypersomnia is caused by any physical health-related issue, it is advisable to visit a doctor and take the necessary tests to obtain greater clarity on the problem. You can discuss medication with your doctor, in case it is deemed necessary. For example, Modafinil is a wake-promotion drug that, in a study, has shown to improve alertness and drive performance in people affected by narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia.
In case your hypersomnia is a result of deteriorating mental health, it is crucial to seek therapy. Check for online psychotherapy, as there are many online counselors available who are sleep specialists and have helped thousands of people deal with their sleep issues. There are also helpline numbers that offer 24×7 online counseling. If you feel you need to consult a psychotherapist for online counseling services, check our services page to find a list of therapists and counselors you can consult today.