Why am I sleeping so much? You know that cliché saying that all excess is bad? You heard it from your grandmother, your aunt or your mother. And they were all right. Anything in excess is really bad, even sleep. Yes, sleeping too much is bad. But rest assured, like (almost) everything in life, there is an explanation.
We live in a time that has been defined by experts as the “insomnia pandemic” or the “romanticization of little sleep”. In fact, everywhere we look we find speeches from so-called productivity gurus saying that “to be successful, you have to be the last to sleep and the first to wake up”.
It's not true. But just as too little sleep is bad for your health, so too is too much sleep. The difference is that the first is often a choice or a social imposition. The second no. And this is where you have to be careful.
How many hours a day does a person need to sleep?
To know what it means to sleep too much, we must first understand what is considered the adequate number of hours to sleep. And for that, there is no concrete answer or medical consensus.
The amount of ideal hours of sleep ranges between seven and nine hours for a healthy adult, but more than time, quality must also be considered.
Sleep is not just a question of hours, but also of quality and regularity so that you feel rested when you wake up, explains the US Department of Health website.
Sleep hours, in fact, are a very personal matter. You cannot compare the needs of a professional athlete with someone who works in an office, for example. Which does not mean that there is no "sleep little" or "sleep a lot".
If you often sleep less than six hours or more than nine hours, it's time to pay a little more attention to your sleep. Depending on the case, you should consider consulting a doctor.
Why I sleep a lot: A sign that something is wrong with your health
Prolonged sleep from time to time can be considered normal. After a too tiring day or when we are very stressed, sleeping a little more helps to keep the body and the head healthy.
Nobody wants you to get up at 7 a.m. on a Sunday after going out on a Saturday night (if you've already gone to bed at 7 a.m.). You just have to be careful with the social jet lag.
Therefore, it is necessary to identify whether excessive sleep and daytime sleepiness are constant or one-time, what are the symptoms and their intensity. Some of the questions a doctor may ask to refer the diagnosis are:
How long have you been feeling drowsy and/or sleeping a lot?
Have you ever fallen asleep at inconvenient times, such as during a meeting?
What time do you go to bed and what time do you wake up?
In addition, it is also necessary to identify the causes of this excessive sleep, if it is the consequence of another health problem or a primary cause.
Secondary Causes of Excessive Sleep
In many cases, oversleeping isn't the problem itself, but a symptom that something bigger isn't right.
Some of the secondary causes of sleep beyond count are:
- Depression - A major change in sleep patterns is one of the most common symptoms of depression. Some people suffer a lot from insomnia while others sleep too much and feel uncontrollable lethargy.
- Injuries – Did you know that 70% of people who have suffered a brain injury begin to experience sleep disturbances?
- Cold and flu – Have you noticed that when we are sick we tend to oversleep? It is a defense mechanism of the body, since it is during sleep that we strengthen immunity both for prevention and to fight infections that we already have. Those who sleep little are more likely to catch the flu.
- Drug reaction – Muscle relaxants, anti-allergics, anti-emetics and anti-vertigo are some of the medications that can temporarily impair your sleep and cause longer nights.
The main causes of excessive sleep
Other times, however, oversleeping is the root of the problem and not a reaction to some other factor. This is called primary hypersomnia.
Hypersomnias are different sleep disorders in which a person sleeps more than is considered enough and may feel very drowsy during the day, which can interfere with your routine.
The primary hypersomnias are:
- Kleine-Levin . syndrome , a neuropsychiatric disorder that primarily affects young men and is characterized by hypersomnolence, megaphagia, and behavioral changes. People with Kleine-Levin, commonly known as “sleeping beauty syndrome,” may sleep 16-22 hours for up to 14 days at a time. Episodes can occur several times a year, but tend to decrease and even disappear over time.
- Narcolepsy , a chronic neurological disease that manifests when the patient is awake, unlike other sleep disorders. Its main characteristic is a very strong sleepiness during the day, which in some cases causes the person to end up falling asleep in everyday and sometimes potentially dangerous situations.
- Idiopathic hypersomnia, a chronic neurological disorder marked by a constant need for sleep that is not resolved even by a good night's sleep. Even sleeping well and even taking naps, the person does not feel rested.
In all three cases, the diagnosis must be made by a doctor who specializes in sleep.
The consequences of sleeping too much
Whether due to primary or secondary hypersomnia, sleeping too much can affect health and routine, starting with “lost” hours.
From a cognitive point of view, there are also several consequences: difficulties with attention and concentration; impaired memory, planning ability and motor coordination; and greater difficulty controlling impulses, among others.
Too much sleep can also cause bouts of anxiety and fatigue, which may even seem contradictory, after all the person is supposed to be 'well rested'. It's not true.
Some of the other potential problems with excessive sleepiness are exactly the same that may be exhibited by those with little sleep, such as headaches, difficulty maintaining weight and eating healthily, higher risk of diabetes, and life expectancy. even shorter life.
This “coincidence” is further proof that sleep is not just about duration, but also about quality and regularity in equal measure.
So if sleeping a lot is a recurrence in your routine, talk to your trusted doctor or seek out a sleep specialist.