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Are You Sleeping Too Much? Here’s How to Tell
A good laugh and a long sleep may be the best cures in the doctor's book, but too much of anything can be the beginning of a mess. No doubt, sleep is essential for our mental and physical well-being, but if you are sleeping for more than eight or nine hours every day, that is a symptom of oversleeping.
Our sleep needs depend on age but may be affected by factors like pregnancy, ageing, sleep deprivation and sleep quality. The amount of sleep you need may also vary over the activity level, lifestyle habits and general health. Although sleep needs differ from person to person, healthcare experts recommend sleeping between seven to nine hours every night.
Given below are the ideal sleep guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation −
Hours of sleep per night
14 – 17 (including naps)
12 – 15 (including naps)
11 – 14 (including naps)
10 – 13
School going children
9 – 11
8 – 10
7 – 9
7 – 8
Causes of Oversleeping
Oversleeping or hypersomnia may occur if a person does not get proper rest because of hectic day-to-day activities. Moreover, there might be other health conditions that may cause oversleeping like depression, heart disease, hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, obesity, diabetes, restless leg syndrome, teeth grinding or clenching, chronic pain and narcolepsy.
People suffering from oversleeping may also develop symptoms of anxiety, memory problems and low energy as they sleep for usually long periods. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that may cause people to stop breathing for a certain moment during sleep and can increase their need for sleep as it disrupts the normal sleep cycle. A recent study revealed that people who slept for more than ten hours every night are 21% more likely to develop obesity as compared to others.
If a person consumes alcohol regularly and that too in large quantity, it may lead to oversleeping. Certain prescription medications may cause oversleeping and one must consult a doctor immediately if it continues for a long time. People having a mood disorder are more likely to oversleep as an abnormal balance of hormones may cause oversleeping. Additionally, people suffering from Parkinson's or dementia may develop oversleeping problems.
Signs that You are Oversleeping
Oversleeping may lead to changes in stress response, and increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and heart disease. It may also lead to the deterioration of the immune system along with an increased risk of death. It is thus extremely important to look out for the signs if you are oversleeping.
Some people might be 'long sleepers' who require sleep between 10 to 12 hours a day but these people are merely 2 per cent of the population. However, if you have slept for seven to nine hours and still don't feel refreshed when you wake up, there could be a problem. According to healthcare experts, oversleeping may be associated with symptoms like tiredness during the day, decreased energy, mood changes, headache and grogginess.
Oversleeping may have an effect on certain neurotransmitters in the brain including serotonin. This may cause headaches in the morning for some people. Insomnia is often linked to depression as compared to hypersomnia, but many people suffering from depression may tend to sleep more than needed and this may worsen their depression.
How to Diagnose Oversleeping?
Keeping a record of your sleep habits in a sleep diary may help your doctor to analyse your sleep pattern. You can record details like when you fall asleep, when you wake and how often you wake during the sleep cycle. You can consult a doctor after tracking your sleep patterns for a week. This may enable your doctor to diagnose the sleep-related problem.
Taking a polysomnogram can also be helpful to measure your brain activity, eye and leg movement, and heart rate while you sleep. For this test, you may have to stay overnight in a sleep centre wherein a monitor will be attached to you to track your sleep pattern. Polysomnograms can be followed by a multiple sleep latency test to measure your sleep as you nap during the day. This test is typically done the day after you take a polysomnogram.
Tips to Sleep Better
You can get your sleep cycle back on track by adopting measures like avoiding the snooze button when your alarm rings in the morning, making a habit of waking up at the same time every day even on the weekends and waking up to natural light. You can follow these tips to sleep better−
Schedule Your Sleep
Just as you schedule an important appointment or meeting, schedule your sleep with the help of a proper sleep timetable. Make a habit to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will help your body to expect sleep during that time and you may get into a rhythm where sleep may come easily.
Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment
Make sure your bedroom has an ideal sleep environment which will make you comfortable and will help your body give in to sleep. Switch your pillow or mattress if they are uncomfortable and darken your room using curtains. You can also use earplugs and eye masks to help drown out any distractions. Avoid falling asleep with the television on, even if the sound is off as it may disrupt your sleep.
Limit the Exposure to Devices
Blue light is emitted from computer and phone screens and this light may disrupt the body's rhythm along with the sleep cycle. If possible, power down the electronic devices and limit your exposure to blue light before bed.
Change Your Lifestyle Habits
If you are habitual to drinking caffeine too close to bedtime or exercising right before you go to bed, such lifestyle habits may disrupt your sleep. Consuming alcohol may make you sleepy but may worsen your sleep quality. You can consume herbal tea or warm milk before going to bed.
If you have difficulty falling asleep, don’t force it. Get up and enjoy some relaxing activities like listening to music etc. Then you may try again to sleep when you feel more restful. If you tend to oversleep even after taking these measures you may have to consult a doctor for further examination.
Regardless of the cause of your oversleeping, practising a good sleep schedule and hygiene will help you to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Never stop a prescribed medicine if oversleeping is caused by the same. Always consult a doctor and try to treat the disorder which will help you get the perfect amount of sleep you need.
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