Too Much Sleep: Effects And Effective Treatment Options

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To suffer from a sleep disorder without knowing it sounds absurd at first. Nevertheless, the estimated number of unreported cases of sleep disorders is very high. So too much sleep can be a reaction of the body to show you that your sleep was not restful enough.

If you do not go through enough deep sleep phases or sleep very restlessly, your body cannot regenerate and this results in increased sleep duration and health problems.

In this article we will explain what can be the triggers for increased sleep duration, what the consequences of too much sleep can be, and most importantly, ways to improve your sleep quality. There are a few tips and tricks on how you can easily optimize your sleep.

The most important facts in brief

  • Too much sleep is usually the result of mental illness or physical discomfort.
  • Long sleep alone has basically no negative health effects, but it usually occurs in connection with illness.
  • Sleep is very individual and everyone has to find the optimal sleep duration for themselves.

Definition: What is too much sleep?

The need for sleep is a very individual need. Both the length of sleep and the number of REM sleep phases and NREM sleep phases can vary from person to person.

The NREM (non rapid eye movement) sleep phases are the body’s deep sleep phases during which it recovers from the exertions of the day and regenerates.

REM (rapid eye movement) sleep phases, on the other hand, enable the brain to process the experiences of the day, learn from events and transfer important information from short-term memory to long-term memory.

The type of sleep and the length of sleep changes with age. For an adult it is necessary to spend more time in NREM sleep phases so that the body can recover.

In contrast, a newborn baby needs as much REM sleep as possible to learn new things and develop quickly. In addition, the amount of sleep a newborn baby needs is much higher than that of an ordinary adult.

The average adult sleeps about 8 hours. But there are certainly people who need more or less hours of sleep to feel rested. As already mentioned, sleep is very individual and there is not one correct length of sleep.

Sleep physicians recommend remembering a time when you were about 20 years old when you could sleep undisturbed.

So you should find out how long you have been sleeping without various everyday obligations. This sleep duration is the correct sleep duration for your body and a guideline for you.

Backgrounds: What you should know about sleeping too much

Here you get some background information on the topic, so that you know what causes too much sleep. You can also get an overview of the consequences of increased sleep duration.

Often too much sleep is related to a sleep disorder, so you should know the symptoms of these disorders. Furthermore, it is important not to ignore a sudden increase in the amount of sleep, but to find its triggers.

Therefore, you should always try to get your sleep as undisturbed as possible. This is the only way to give your body the opportunity for regeneration.

Can I sleep too much at all?

Opinions are divided on this question. Some studies show that people who sleep a lot are more likely to fall ill and die earlier.
But these studies are often misinterpreted, because too much sleep is usually not the trigger for illness, but the result of an existing illness.
Most people who suffer from too much sleep have a mental illness or a physical illness.
There are people who only feel rested after 12 hours of sleep, whereas others manage with 5 hours of sleep.
The length of sleep is very individual and how many hours of sleep each person needs cannot be generalised.

Normally, the body also gets the amount of sleep it needs.

Therefore, strictly speaking, you can’t sleep too much, because every body needs different lengths of sleep for regeneration.
However, too much sleep becomes a health problem when it is associated with a mental illness. You can read more about this in the next few paragraphs.

What causes too much sleep?

The duration and frequency of our sleep behavior can be influenced by several factors. Some of the causes of too much sleep will be explained below.
Depression
Depression can be a cause of too much sleep, as depression causes indifference, sluggishness and fatigue.
People who suffer from depression usually find it exhausting to get out of bed and get up to do something.

Physical diseases

But even ordinary everyday illnesses, such as a cold, can cause you to sleep too much.

This is a natural reaction of the body because it is weakened by the disease and therefore needs more rest.

In contrast to a mental illness, sleep usually has a positive effect on the body in case of physical complaints.

For example, if you have a bad cold, your body needs more rest to get well. With mental illnesses, on the other hand, an increased length of sleep usually has a beneficial effect on the illness.

When you find yourself in such a state of mind, it is understandable that you would prefer to spend the whole day in bed.

This is of course counterproductive for your recovery. If you feel that you sleep too much because you suffer from depression, you should definitely see a doctor.

Insomnia

Some people suffer from sleep disorders without knowing it.

Even if you yourself consider your sleep to be good, you may often wake up for a short moment during the night.

However, you can’t remember these moments in the morning, which is why you assess your sleep well.

The problem here is that the body never really falls into the deep sleep phase if you constantly wake up at night.

As a result, you cannot recover properly and the amount of sleep you need increases.

So if you sleep for a very long time and still feel constantly tired, it would be advisable to have a check-up, as there is a possibility that you are suffering from a sleep disorder.

Physical diseases

But even ordinary everyday illnesses, such as a cold, can cause you to sleep too much.

This is a natural reaction of the body because it is weakened by the disease and therefore needs more rest.

In contrast to a mental illness, sleep usually has a positive effect on the body in case of physical complaints.

For example, if you have a bad cold, your body needs more rest to get well. With mental illnesses, on the other hand, an increased length of sleep usually has a beneficial effect on the illness.

Vitamin deficiency

Another trigger for increased sleep duration is vitamin deficiency.

A vitamin deficiency in the body can trigger mental illness or sleep disturbances, which in turn encourage excessive sleep.

For example, vitamin D has a direct effect on your sleep quality.

If you suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, this can reduce the quality of your sleep and thus increase your tiredness and sleep duration.

Here we have listed some consequences that a lack of the sun vitamin can have.

What are the consequences of too much sleep?

Too much sleep can manifest itself in several ways. The consequences of increased sleep duration are constant fatigue, back and headaches or weight gain.
In addition, increased sleep duration usually favours an already existing mental illness.
In general, you usually feel tired and listless after too much sleep. It is difficult for you to get up for activities. It feels as if your body does not wake up properly all day long.

Promotion of mental health

For example, too much sleep promotes an existing mental illness.

If you are suffering from a mental illness, long sleep is usually counterproductive to your recovery because it increases your fatigue and sluggishness and makes you feel even more unmotivated.

Fatigue

Almost everyone knows the feeling when you still feel tired after a long sleep.

Most of the time it is as if the body does not wake up properly all day long and it is much harder to motivate oneself.

Of course it is not a problem if this happens to you from time to time, but if you are constantly sleeping late and are still tired, it is probably because your sleep was not restful enough for your body.

As already mentioned, this may be due to a sleep disorder.

Back pain

Back pain is a logical consequence of too much sleep because your body needs exercise to stay healthy.

So if you spend most of the day in your bed, over a longer period of time this can damage your spine and cause back pain.

Increase in weight

Some sufferers also suffer from excess pounds. This is usually simply because you are not feeling well and are not paying attention to your diet.

The lack of exercise also contributes to weight gain. However, this consequence of too much sleep is very individual and only occurs if you eat an unhealthy diet.

Headache

Headaches are mainly the result of too much sleep, if the person affected secretly suffers from a sleep disorder and the body is not able to rest at night.

This can be seen for example in headaches in the morning.

When should I go to the doctor if I sleep too much?

If you sleep a few days longer than usual, this is no reason to worry. In such cases the body usually needs additional relief because you may be under stress.
However, if you notice that your sleep duration changes unusually over a longer period of time, it would certainly be advisable to seek the opinion of a doctor.
It could be that you suffer from a sleep disorder without noticing it yourself and this can be shown by an unusually long sleep duration.
You can read more about this above under the causes of too much sleep.

What to do about too much sleep: preventive measures

Too much sleep cannot be cured by medication. However, the causes of too much sleep, such as mental illness or sleep disorders, can usually be treated with medication or traditional Chinese medicine.

However, in this article we will focus on preventive measures that you can follow to achieve a healthy sleep-wake rhythm.

Autogenes Training

Often an obstacle to a relaxed sleep is the own emotional state. Everyone knows evenings when you are still in bed and your problems are keeping you awake.

These problems and concerns also affect the quality of sleep.

Therefore you should try to solve your problems and remove your worries before you fall asleep.

If you can reduce your stress already during the day, you enable your body to switch off better at night.

Stress-related problems can be controlled very well through autogenic training, a relaxation technique.

Autogenic training tries to consciously relax all parts of the body little by little. The body should react to their verbal signals and you can train this focusing on the body.

A big advantage of autogenic training is that you can do it anytime and anywhere. The goal of this technique is to relax your body better and faster.

Here we have listed even more relaxation techniques for you, which can help you to a better sleep.

Rituals and sleep rhythm

The first thing to find out is how long your body needs to sleep. As mentioned above, this is achieved by remembering your sleeping habits at a young age (around 20 years).

This is the optimal amount of sleep for you and you should try to hit this number of hours every night.

To make it easier for you to fall asleep, you can set up various rituals that signal your body to go into sleep mode.

It is important that you do not use your mobile phone or laptop just before falling asleep, as blue light is emitted by these electronic devices.

The blue light can reduce the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and thus keep you awake longer.

So as a sleeping ritual you should choose something that makes you tired. For example, reading a book, listening to music, nature sounds or meditation.

In principle, a sleep ritual can be anything that lets your body come to rest.

Correct nutrition

Nutrition also plays a role for a good night’s sleep. Neither with a strong feeling of fullness nor with hunger or thirst can your body relax well.

Above all, you should take care not to eat food that is difficult for your body to digest before sleeping.

This is an additional strain on your body overnight and can cause you to wake up more often.

You should also avoid sugar and caffeine in the evening hours so that you do not go to bed full of energy. This makes it very difficult to fall asleep.

In general, it is of course advisable for your well-being that you eat a healthy diet. In addition, good mood and inner balance also lead to better sleep.

Create motivation to get up

For people who sleep too much and find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, it is especially important to create something to look forward to in the morning and to encourage them to get up.

Especially our everyday obligations, such as work, we often see as arduous.

So you should try to find things in your life for which you like to jump out of bed in the morning.

This can be, for example, a nice breakfast, sports, a pet or visiting friends.

Trivia: What else you should know about sleeping too much

We have now covered the topic in great detail and addressed the most important points.

Of course, it is possible that you still have other questions about this topic or that you are simply very interested in it, which is why you can find more information about increased sleep duration here.

What should I do if my child needs too much sleep?

It may of course happen that your child needs too much sleep because he or she suffers from a sleep disorder, in which case you should of course consult a doctor.

Normally, however, it is not a cause for concern if your child needs more sleep than you do. Babies and toddlers in particular learn a lot of new things every day and have to process them in their sleep.

Even teenagers are still developing their bodies and brains and therefore sometimes need more sleep. Usually you can trust your body and give it as much sleep as it needs.

Under what circumstances is increased sleep duration normal?

Under certain physical circumstances, increased sleep duration is also completely normal and you do not need to worry about a possible sleep disorder.

For example, in case of an illness, such as a cold, the body simply needs a little more sleep. Even after very heavy physical exertion, the body needs more sleep to regenerate.

Women usually need more sleep than usual, even during pregnancy, and children are still developing and may therefore have an increased sleep duration.

Can too much sleep be fatal?

As mentioned above, there are studies that show that people who sleep a lot fall ill more often and die earlier.

However, since too much sleep is usually the result of a pre-existing illness, there is no reason to assume that long sleep alone will shorten the life span.

Conclusion

We hope you could see that a long period of sleep is not necessarily unhealthy.

Only if your sleep duration changes unusually and you sleep for a long time and still feel tired all the time, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder.

Therefore it is important to recognize the symptoms early and not to ignore them, so that you can have a restful sleep. After all, everyone is in a better mood after a restful sleep than after a restless night.

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