Having copious amounts of something isn’t always a good thing. That’s particularly true in terms of sleep. Getting endless amounts of shut-eye can actually be detrimental to your health. It can also be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition such as a sleep disorder. Insomnia may get more attention as people struggle to get enough sleep, but hypersomnia — the medical term for oversleeping — is also a common condition, occurring in 4% to 6% of the general population.
If you are here, you’ve probably asked yourself “Why am I sleeping so much?” There are several different causes of oversleeping, all of which can impact your overall health. Here, we’ll show you how much sleep you should be getting, what causes oversleeping, and how you can improve your sleep.
How Much Sleep Should I Get?
It’s no secret that getting enough sleep is essential to your health. But what about getting too much sleep? And, how much sleep is too much? The answer to these questions is that it depends. You’ve probably heard the standard answer that eight hours of sleep is the ideal amount of rest. While it’s generally true that 7-9 hours of sleep is ideal, the right amount of sleep depends largely on your age, genetics, activity level, and life circumstances.
People who are very active may have higher sleep needs than others. That’s because the human body is working harder during strenuous activity and thus requires more time to recharge. Certain life circumstances can also increase the need for more sleep hours. Women who are pregnant often need more sleep than when they’re not pregnant. Other times, stress and big life changes such as moving or dealing with a high-stress job can increase the need for sleep.
Additionally, genetics impact your natural circadian rhythm — the body’s natural process that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Some people are simply wired to need more or less sleep depending on their genetic code.
In sum, there isn’t a magic number of sleep hours for everyone. In general, seven to nine hours of sleep should suffice for most individuals. Some people may need a little more while others function better with a little less.
Age is another key driver in the number of hours of sleep you need. Young children need significantly more sleep hours compared to adults in order to grow and develop properly. Here are some general guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation when it comes to recommended sleep amounts for different age categories. You’ll notice the differences in sleep hours as the chart increases in the age category.
- 0-3 months: 14-17 hours of sleep per day
- 4-11 months: 12-15 hours of sleep per day
- 1-2 years: 11-14 hours of sleep per day
- 3-5 years: 10-13 hours of sleep per day
- 6-13 years: 9-11 hours of sleep per day
- 14-17 years: 8-10 hours of sleep per day
- 18-64 years: 7-9 hours of sleep per day
- 65+ years: 7-8 hours of sleep per day
If you regularly get eight to nine hours of sleep and feel groggy or sleepy when you wake up, you may be oversleeping. Read on to learn what symptoms to watch out for, why it may be happening, and what you can do about it.
Symptoms of Oversleeping
Hypersomnia is a sleep disorder that causes symptoms from too much sleep. Your body may react negatively since it’s getting more sleep than it needs. In the short term, these symptoms are nothing to be concerned about. However, if you’re chronically oversleeping, the sleep disorder may cause more severe mental health issues, including a higher risk for depression.
Common symptoms of hypersomnia include:
- Sleeping significantly more than the recommended 7-8 hours per night
- Having a hard time waking up in the morning
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of tired eyes
- Feelings of sadness or depression and a desire to stay in bed
- Memory problems
Why Am I Sleeping So Much: Causes of Oversleeping
There are many different things that can lead to oversleeping. Lifestyle habits like substance use and late-night parties can impact normal sleep. Medical conditions, disorders, and medications can also lead to increased sleep that may become detrimental to health. Here are some of the main causes of oversleeping.
Sleep disorders are among the main causes of oversleeping. They affect not only the number of sleep hours you get, but the quality of your sleep and time spent in restorative sleep cycles including REM — a sleep phase that is integral to re-energizing the brain. When you get poor sleep quality or lack enough sleep hours, your body creates a sleep deficit. To overcome this deficit, you may oversleep. When this occurs regularly, your health suffers. Here are some sleep disorders that are closely associated with oversleeping.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where the airways become obstructed during sleep. If you have sleep apnea, you may not notice when your airways become obstructed since the symptom occurs regularly and periodically throughout the night.
While you may not notice, obstructive sleep apnea dramatically affects the quality of sleep leading to sleep deprivation. Many people who suffer from sleep apnea feel tired and groggy throughout the day and oversleep to compensate for the poor nighttime sleep quality. Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of serious conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
RLS is a medical condition that causes a tingling and burning sensation in the legs. It also causes severe discomfort and a consistent urge to move the legs. These symptoms are more pronounced when you’re laying down for long periods of time. That means it can be difficult to get a restful sleep at night. Many people who suffer from RLS tend to oversleep during the day to make up for the lack of normal nighttime sleep.
Narcolepsy is a medical condition characterized by excessive sleepiness during the daytime and sudden urges to sleep. Symptoms include loss of muscle control, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. People who suffer from narcolepsy are unable to properly control their circadian rhythm and normal sleep cycles. As a result, people who have narcolepsy may oversleep during the day and have difficulty sleeping at night.
Idiopathic is a term used to refer to a condition with an unknown cause. People who suffer from idiopathic hypersomnia may not know exactly why they are getting more than the recommended amount of sleep every night. With this condition, people may sleep many hours more than necessary at night and still feel tired and groggy the next day.
Other Health Conditions
Other medical conditions may be the underlying cause of hypersomnia. People who suffer from neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may oversleep at night or during the day. Epilepsy and multiple sclerosis can also increase the risk of hypersomnia.
Jet lag may also cause oversleeping, though this is typically a short-term sleep problem, not a long-term health risk. In addition, another sleep disorder called Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD) may cause sleep disruptions due to work schedules. People who work graveyard shifts, rotating shifts, and split shifts may suffer from poor sleep quality because these shifts directly affect normal circadian rhythms and sleep schedule.
Certain medications may also increase the risk of drowsiness and oversleeping. Tiredness and drowsiness are some of the main side effects of medications. If you think medications are interrupting your sleep cycle, seek medical advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner or a sleep medicine expert. You may be able to lower your dose or change the time you take your medications to avoid impacting sleep.
Here are some of the most common medications that affect sleep duration:
- Sedatives and tranquilizers
- Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants
Drinking alcohol or taking drugs can impact normal sleep cycles. Stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines can make it hard to fall asleep at night, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep deprivation. Alcohol and other depressive drugs such as marijuana may make you sleepy during the day. These substances affect the circadian rhythm, throw normal sleep habits out of whack, and often result in oversleeping.
How To Get Better Sleep
Good sleep is closely tied to overall health. Sleep problems like hypersomnia may cause more severe health problems including depression and anxiety when left untreated. If you find yourself constantly hitting the snooze button and finding it difficult to focus and feel rested, you may be suffering from hypersomnia.
If you’re asking yourself “Why am I sleeping so much?” and wondering how to feel more rested, start by taking a look at your sleep patterns. If you feel like you’re sleeping all the time or suffer from poor sleep, a health tracker can help you monitor your sleep habits.
Try sticking to a sleep schedule where you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. By doing so, you can help condition your body to a normal cycle and avoid oversleeping.
If you find that your sleep quality is suffering, try making your bedroom a better environment for getting rest. Don’t watch television or stare at your phone screen right before bed. The light on the devices can impact natural circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep or get restful sleep.
Practice good sleep hygiene. Your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet to ensure the best night’s sleep. If you like to be warm when sleeping, instead of turning up the thermostat, try layering on a few more blankets. If you have pets and suffer from poor sleep quality, try to keep them off the bed at night. If you live in a noisy city, try using earplugs or a noise machine to drown out sounds that may disrupt your sleep.
Try not to drink substances or take medications that may affect sleep right before bed. Limit caffeine and strenuous exercise in the evening, which can make it harder to fall asleep. Try to be active during the day so you’ll be tired and ready to sleep at night.
Monitor Your Sleep With Biostrap
Getting enough sleep is vital to both your mental health and physical health. Biostrap offers a comprehensive sleep tool that can help you get in-depth data on sleep disturbances and sleep habits.
The Biostrap Sleep Lab helps track arm and leg movements to identify sleep disturbances throughout the night. It also captures snoring levels and conducts biometric scans every two minutes to monitor your heart rate variability, oxygen saturation, and respiratory rate.
You can even print out a detailed PDF with the information from the wearable so you can share all your data with your doctor. It’s one of the easiest ways to get high-quality metrics and insight into your sleeping habits.