In this day and age, we're usually obsessed with lack of sleep and what it can do to us. And it's true: sleep deprivation is a serious issue. It's estimated that about 33-45% of Australian adults get inadequate sleep in both quality and quantity.
Hence, we forget about the other side of this problem, which is oversleeping.
Yes, that’s right. No matter how attractive it might sound, particularly for people who are sleep deprived, oversleeping be or turn into a problem of its own.
What Is Oversleeping?
Oversleeping (called “hypersomnia” in scientific terms) is a condition that is characterized by excessive sleepiness. It basically means you're getting too much sleep up until the point where it stops being good for you.
Besides sleeping too much at night, people who oversleep also experience excessive daytime sleepiness, meaning they feel chronically tired and lack energy during the day.
Is Oversleeping a Sleep Disorder?
Oversleeping is not a sleep disorder on its own, but it can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or an underlying health issue.
For example, oversleeping can sometimes be a sign of:
- Sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea
- Chronic pain/fibromyalgia
- Cardiovascular disease
- Hypothyroidism (a condition in which your thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones)
Let's go into more detail about some of these potential reasons behind oversleeping.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects your breathing during sleep. People who suffer from sleep apnea temporarily stop breathing while they're asleep. It can also cause snoring, and in more serious cases, it can even cause people to choke during sleep.
Poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness often accompany sleep apnea, which can also prompt your oversleeping patterns. If you're often too tired during the day, you'll try to take as many naps as you can, right?
But there's a silver lining when it comes to sleep apnea - it's treatable. You will, of course, need to talk to a sleep specialist, and you will probably need to do a sleep study. The doctor may prescribe you to use a CPAP machine, a device specially designed for sleep apnea sufferers that will help you breathe more easily and consistently throughout the night.
Narcolepsy is another type of serious sleep disorder that affects the way your body regulates the circadian rhythm, the natural sleep-wake cycle. People who suffer from narcolepsy fall asleep without wanting to, in the middle of the day. They also experience excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks (characterized by strong urges to fall asleep).
Even though narcolepsy is one of the more serious sleep disorders, it is also treatable. The important thing is to ask for medical help as soon as you notice worrying symptoms so you can get the right treatment on time. Good lifestyle habits, like eating healthy and exercising, can also make you more equipped to deal with narcolepsy and the oversleeping that comes as a result of it.
Depression is a mental health disorder that often causes a variety of sleep disorders like hypersomnia and insomnia (oversleeping and not sleeping at all).
Depression is often characterized by a lack of motivation, low mood, lack of interest in usual activities, sleepiness, tiredness, poor concentration, and in more serious instances, even suicidal thoughts.
If you think you might have some of these symptoms, then you should speak to a mental health specialist as soon as you can. Seeking professional help for any kind of mental health disorder is very important so you can improve the quality of your life.
There are various treatments for depression, and some common ones are medicines, psychotherapy, CBT - cognitive behavioural therapy, or a combination of all three. What's important is that you ask for help.
As you were able to see, there is no one reason why you may be oversleeping. It can be a result of an underlying health issue or a sleep disorder. And sometimes, it can just be a result of poor sleep habits, a lack of bedtime and wake-up routine, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise... You know, the usual stuff that is actually good for you.
So, if you find you're often oversleeping, the solution is to talk to a professional and improve your sleep habits. Your body will certainly be grateful for it.