Hypersomnia refers to either excessive daytime sleepiness or spending too much time sleeping. But is it really possible to get too much sleep? Research suggests that it is possible to get too much sleep. Too much sleep, where you have hypersomnia that refers to the need to sleep excessively, can have negative impacts on your health. In this article we’ll look at normal sleep habits, and then the habits of someone who suffers from hypersomnia.
What is considered normal sleep? Keeping in mind that there is no defined “normal” amount of sleep, most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night to feel rested. So, in that sense 7-8 hours of sleep per night would be defined as “normal”. However, you should be aware that you will need differing amounts of sleep at different stages in life. Children will get more sleep as their bodies develop. We all know how teens love to sleep till noon or later. Then as you get older, most older adults find they sleep less total hours as they age. So normal for the purposes of this article will be defined as 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Since we define the normal amount of sleep at 7-8 hours per night, the person with hypersomnia will sleep 9 or 10 hours per day, or even longer. This is not the occasional time when people like to sleep in on the weekend. This is a recurring habit rather than a one or two times a week thing. The hypersomnia sufferer will feel like they need more sleep, and will be excessively sleepy during the daytime even when they get enough sleep. The person with hypersomnia may fall asleep while working, or fall asleep at a red light. The danger of falling alseep while driving makes this condition especially dangerous.
What Causes Hypersomnia
There are a number of things that can cause you to be excessively sleepy. Some are related to other sleep disorders, and others may be caused by other influences. These are some of the leading causes:
- Sleep Apnea- see a sleep specialist if you suspect you may have this condition. For further information read the post on sleep apnea.
- Narcolepsy- a neurological disorder that affects the regulation of sleep cycles.
- Not getting enough sleep at night
- Genetics- having a close relative with hypersomnia increases the risk of someone developing the condition.
- Depression- those suffering from depression may sleep more than normal and have a hard time even getting out of bed. Depression should be treated by a licensed medical professional.
- Obesity- Person who are obese are more likely to suffer from the condition. Those who are morbidly obese may suffer from a condition known as hypercarbia, an excess of CO2 in the blood caused by the inability to excrete enough CO2 due to the pressure of weight on the lungs and diaphram.
- Other neurological diseases as well as a recent head injury can cause the condition as well.
Is Getting Too Much Sleep Harmful?
Once again, the answer is maybe. If you occasionally sleep more than recommended, this is not harmful. But if you normally sleep 9 or more hours a night then the answer is that it can possibly be harmful to your health. According to several research studies getting too much sleep can result in the following:
- Studies have shown that there is a higher risk of early death in those with hypersomnia compared to those who receive the normal amount of sleep.
- Studies have also shown that those who sleep more than normal amounts have a higher risk of stroke.
- Additional studies show that there is an increased risk of obesity in those who suffer from hypersomnia.
- To much sleep can also leave you at risk for developing diabetes
For all the reasons listed above it would be a good idea to consult a sleep specialist if you feel you may be suffering from the disease. A sleep specialist is a physician specially trained in sleep medicine who can diagnose and treat the condition.
How Do You Know If You Are At Risk?
It can be a challenge to identify if you are getting too much sleep and it is affecting your health. If you have trouble staying awake during the day, or you feel tired and sleepy all day no matter how much you sleep, then here are a few suggestions to help you know if you should see your doctor.
- A Sleep Diary- start keeping a sleep diary. This can help your doctor or sleep specialist to determine and diagnose if you have a problem. You should write down nightly what time you go to sleep and what time you wake up in the morning. Write down any times you are awakend and have to get up during the night. Also, write down the times you feel sleepy or fall alseep during the day.
- Make notes of your caffiene intake during the day. If you drink large amounts of coffee to stay awake, your doctor needs to know that as well.
- Can’t seem to lose weight no matter how much you exercise and eat right. Sleeping too much may be the issue.
Hypersonmia is a condition that can be treated. You should talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist about your symptoms. They will be able to do testing to help them diagnose and treat the condition so you can get back to doing the things you want to do without feeling tired and sleepy all day.