If you sleep too long or too little, there are strategies to improve your sleep quality and avoid oversleeping.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Have a good night.” But what about excessive sleep? Can you oversleep?
Sleeping more than the recommended daily amount may indicate that you are not resting as well as you think. Sleep disturbances, medications, or medical conditions may be the underlying cause, which can be treated.
Some people simply have a natural biological clock that compels them to sleep more hours. For this second group, called long sleepers, managing the condition may mean incorporating a longer sleep pattern into their daily lives.
Excessive sleep is linked to certain health problems, but doctors don’t know if the sleep is a result of these health problems or the cause.
The amount of sleep you need depends on your age. the
- 13 to 18 years old: 8 to 10 hours per night
- 18 to 60 years old: 7 hours or more per night
- 61 to 65 years old: 7 to 9 hours per night
- over 65: 7 to 8 hours per night
People who sleep longer are sometimes called long sleepers. According to American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)long sleepers need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night to feel rested the next day.
Oversleeping can also fall under the definition of hypersomnia – a condition characterized by excessive fatigue during the day or prolonged sleep at night.
So, can we oversleep? Although some people may oversleep and have no health problems, long sleep is also associated with health problems. But it’s unclear whether long sleep is a result of other health conditions or their cause.
The cause of prolonged sleep is unknown. For some people, this may be their natural sleep pattern or their biological circadian rhythm.
Hypersomnia can be idiopathic – it has no known cause, or it can be the result of:
- another sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea
- dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system or central nervous system
- prescription drugs
- substance use
- head injury or trauma
- medical conditions such as depression or obesity
Long sleepers often have to wake up before their preferred time to manage their daily lives. They may end up catching up on that sleep on weekends and days off.
If you’re a long sleeper, what happens when you oversleep is less important than what happens when you try to sleep less.
Fight the natural sleep pattern can make your symptoms worse or even lead to the development of another sleep disorder, according to the AASM.
Hypersomnia can have a range of side effects, including:
- difficulty waking up from sleep
- feelings of anxiety and irritation
- low energy levels
- slow thinking and speaking
- memory challenges
- loss of appetite
Living with this condition can be difficult. Symptoms can often lead to problems at work, school, and in your relationships.
The risk of falling asleep during activities such as driving means you could have a greater risk of car accidents.
Treatment for hypersomnia usually involves identifying and treating the underlying cause, if there is one.
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For hypersomnia without a known cause, a medical professional can try to treat the symptoms of the condition. The following medications might be suggested:
- stimulants (amphetamine, methylphenidate, modafinil)
- clonidine (Catapres)
- bromocriptine (Parlodel)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) might also be recommended. It can help you learn coping techniques and self-help strategies to manage your symptoms.
If you suffer from hypersomnia or are a long sleeper, there are some strategies you can try to improve the quality of your sleep. These may include:
- cut down on stimulants, such as alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes before bed
- exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet
- having a regular bedtime routine
- eliminating distractions in the room where you sleep
You might also benefit from taking brief naps during the day, especially when engaging in activities that may require concentration.
If you are a long sleeper, it may also be a good idea to incorporate long periods of sleep into your day as much as possible to avoid developing another sleep condition.
If you are worried or want more information, consider talking to a medical or mental health professional. They can offer more information about other strategies you can try and recommend further evaluation.
Hypersomnia or long sleeps can complicate the management of daily life. Identifying the underlying cause is often the first step towards improving your symptoms.
If there’s no apparent cause for your symptoms or you’re a naturally long sleeper, you may find it helpful to incorporate a longer sleep schedule into your daily life. New medications and talk therapy can also help you manage your symptoms.