Like insomnia or difficulty with sleeping, excessive sleep or sleeping more than your body needs can cause many medical problems. In fact, oversleeping or hypersomnia is actually a medical disorder. A person affected by the condition typically tends to doze off during the day and feel lethargic even after sleeping for longer than needed at night. The reasons why a person tends to oversleeps include:
- Use of certain medications or substances
- Alcohol addiction
- Medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea (which interrupts the normal sleep cycle at night) and depression
- Working in shifts
While sleep needs vary with age, sleeping for more than seven or eight hours of sleep at night is not healthy. Here are some of the problems that excessive sleep causes:
- Oversleeping leads to weight gain. Studies report that people become obese when they lack in sleep or sleep more. A recent study says a person who oversleeps every night is 21% more likely to become obese over a six-year period. The association between oversleeping and weight gain was found to remain the same even diet and exercise were taken into account.
- Sleeping longer than usual on a weekend or vacation causes headaches, the reason being that oversleeping affects certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. It causes less serotonin to be released than should be and this leads to a headache.
- People suffering from depression may sleep more and this worsens the condition. Regular sleep habits are necessary for recovery from depression.
- Even when it could not find a connection between sleep and heart disease, one study found that women who oversleep have a higher risk of developing heart disease than those who slept the recommended number of hours.
- A study by researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK and the Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy linked both too little and too much sleep to premature death.
- Excessive sleep affects work and other activities.
If you generally sleep for more than seven or eight hours per night, you should seek medical help to determine why you oversleep. If you use certain medications or substances that affect your normal sleep habits, cutting back or eliminating these can help. However, you cannot stop taking a prescribed medicine without asking your doctor’s advice. If your oversleeping is due to an underlying medical disorder, treating this condition may help your get back to healthy sleep habits.