If you’re sleeping too long or not enough, there are strategies to help improve your sleep quality and avoid oversleeping.
You have likely heard the phrase, “Get a good night’s rest.” But what about oversleeping? Can you get too much sleep?
Sleeping more than the recommended daily amount might indicate that you’re not resting as soundly as you think. Sleep disorders, medications, or medical conditions may be the underlying cause, which can be treated.
Some people just have a natural biological clock that requires them to sleep more hours. For this second group, called long sleepers, managing the condition may mean integrating a longer sleep pattern into their daily life.
Excessive sleeping is linked to some health issues, but doctors don’t know if sleep results from these health conditions or the cause.
The amount of sleep you need depends on your age. The
- 13 to 18 years old: 8 to 10 hours a night
- 18 to 60 years old: 7 or more hours a night
- 61 to 65 years old: 7 to 9 hours a night
- over 65 years: 7 to 8 hours a night
People who sleep longer than this are sometimes called long sleepers. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), long sleepers need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night to feel refreshed the following day.
Getting too much sleep can also fall under the definition of hypersomnia — a condition characterized by excessive tiredness during the day or sleeping for a prolonged amount of time at night.
So, can you sleep too much? Although some people can oversleep regularly and have no health problems, long sleeping is also associated with health issues. But it’s not clear whether long sleep results from other health issues or their cause.
The cause of long sleeping is unknown. For some people, this may be their natural sleep pattern, or biological circadian rhythm.
Hypersomnia can be idiopathic — it has no known cause, or it may be the result of:
- another sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea
- autonomic nervous system or central nervous system dysfunction
- prescription medications
- substance use
- head injury or trauma
- medical conditions such as depression or obesity
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Long sleepers often have to wake up before their preferred time to manage daily life. They may end up making up for that sleep on weekends and days off.
If you’re a long sleeper, what happens when you sleep too much is less important than what happens when you try to sleep less.
Fighting the natural sleep rhythm 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:
- trouble waking from sleep
- feelings of anxiety and irritation
- low energy levels
- slow thinking and speech
- memory challenges
- loss of appetite
Living with this condition can be challenging. 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 may have a greater chance of car accidents.
Treatment for hypersomnia usually involves identifying and addressing the underlying cause, if there is one.
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For hypersomnia with no known cause, a healthcare professional may try to address 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 have hypersomnia, or are a long sleeper, there are some strategies you can try to improve your quality of sleep. These can include:
- reducing stimulants, such as alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes before bed
- getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet
- having a regular bedtime routine
- eliminating distractions in the room where you sleep
You might also benefit from brief naps during the day, especially when you’re engaging in activities that may require concentration.
If you’re a long sleeper, it also might be a good idea to incorporate long sleeping times into your day as much as possible to avoid developing another sleeping condition.
If you’re concerned or want more information, consider speaking with a healthcare or mental health professional. They can offer more insight into other strategies you can try and recommend further evaluation.
Hypersomnia or long sleeping can make it challenging to manage daily life. Pinpointing the underlying cause is often the first step toward improving your symptoms.
If there’s no apparent cause for your symptoms, or if you’re naturally a long sleeper, you may find it helpful to integrate a longer sleep schedule into your daily life. New medications and talk therapy might also help you manage your symptoms.