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Why Do I Sleep So Much & How To Get Rid of Excessive Daytime Sleeping?

Do you sleep more than nine hours a day? If you do, you might want to learn more about why that is happening and what you can do about it so you can lead a healthier, more productive life. 

Of course, getting enough sleep is paramount for our health and well-being, and seeing how adults should get anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep every night – every extra hour of sleep is good for you, right?

Actually, that’s not right. Getting more than nine hours of sleep every night might be a sign of an underlying health issue that you don’t know about. Or, maybe you’re just tired more than usual?

Whatever the case may be, we’re going to explore it. We’re going to talk about excessive sleepiness, what causes it, how to treat it, and several other things until we finally reach the answer to the age-old question – why do I sleep so much?

Table of Contents
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    What is excessive sleepiness?

    How much sleep do you need? How much sleep is too much sleep? Do young adults need more sleep than older adults?

    Generally speaking, a good night’s sleep for an adult is between seven and nine hours, which means that excessive sleeping or excessive daytime sleepiness is defined as sleeping more than that – so more than nine hours during a 24-hour period. This condition is also called oversleeping, long sleeping, or if you want to get technical – hypersomnia.

    an image of a man oversleeping and turning his alarm clock off

    The opposite of insomnia is not as bad as its counterpart, but it is still not too good for you. Sleeping over nine hours each night can cause several health issues and is commonly caused by some underlying health issues, but more on that later.

    Now, sleeping more than the recommended amount of hours for a few days is not a cause for concern. Everyone gets tired and sleepy once in a while. However, if you’re constantly getting ten, eleven, or even twelve hours of sleep, and you’re still tired and restless – there’s probably something going on underneath.

    What causes Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS)?

    As we’ve said, more often than not, excessive daytime sleepiness is caused by an underlying issue. Here are some of the most common ones forcing you to sleep more than you should.

    Sleep disorders

    The most common causes of excessive sleepiness are, in fact, sleep disorders. The most common sleep disorders causing EDS are sleep apnea and narcolepsy.

    Sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the result of a blockage in the airway, and it occurs when the upper airway collapses for at least ten seconds during the night. However, this is not a one-time occurrence. In fact, this happens hundreds of times each night. OSA can cause snoring and loss of quality sleep, but it is also a cause for many other health conditions.

    Narcolepsy is another sleep disorder that causes EDS. Those suffering from narcolepsy suffer from “sleep attacks”, or uncontrollable drowsiness, urge to sleep, and outright moments of sleep. This happens because your body puts you in a REM sleep period during the day, causing you to abruptly fall asleep or feel extremely sleepy.

    Obesity

    Obesity will cause many problems for you, including sleep disturbances and EDS. The way obesity will cause EDS is by making you more susceptible to OSA and other sleep disorders, and even heart disease, all of which will result in poor sleep, nighttime sleep, which will then lead to sleepiness and tiredness throughout the day.

    Obesity will also affect sleep quality in many other ways, all of which will reflect on your ability to stay sharp and awake during the day and will make you susceptible to excessive sleepiness during the day.

    Depression & insomnia

    Depression can and will affect sleep quality in a lot of different ways. First of all, some depressed people have trouble falling and staying asleep, they get poor quality sleep, or they just get too little sleep. On the other hand, the others suffer from what’s called “depression sleep” – a condition where they sleep too much. The worst thing about it is this works the other way around, too. A lack of sleep or poor sleep habits can lead to depression.

    an image of a woman suffering from insomnia problems

    If you suffer from insomnia, you probably don’t ask yourself, “why do I sleep as much as I do”. However, if you suffer from insomnia, you’re probably experiencing EDS on daily basis. Horrible sleep patterns and short sleep duration caused by insomnia will almost always cause EDS, making life miserable for people suffering from it.

    Substance abuse

    Substance abuse will wreak havoc on your mind and body, so it is only natural that it will cause sleep disturbances and excessive sleep habits.

    Substance abuse, whether it is alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes, are often connected to sleep problems. Even abusing sleep medicine can cause excessive daytime sleepiness.

    A “nightcap” might be a popular practice for many, but it actually shouldn’t be a part of your bedtime routine. Any substance abuse will lead to sleep deprivation, EDS, and all other kinds of health problems.

    Autonomic dysfunctions

    Autoimmune medical conditions could also be the cause of excessive sleepiness.

    Since we still don’t fully understand autoimmune diseases, we aren’t certain how to cure them, why they happen, or even how many are there, but what we do know is that conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, can lead to fatigue and extreme sleepiness, tiredness, and central nervous system impairments.

    We also know that some of these autoimmune diseases can contribute to EDS because of their effect on the overall health and particular systems they disrupt.

    Injuries & diseases

    A whole array of injuries and diseases can cause sudden onset of extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day. From diabetes, idiopathic hypersomnia, hypothyroidism, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders, and so on.

    As for injuries, usually, we’re talking about an injury to the hypothalamus or some other kind of traumatic brain injury that can lead to EDS.

    In addition to that, prescription medications for injuries or chronic pain could also lead to excessive sleeping.

    Mental well being

    Mental disorders like the one we’ve mentioned could also lead to impaired sleep health and EDS. However, depression isn’t the only mental issue that can cause EDS. General mental health and well being should not be neglected because just like physical health, mental issues can easily lead to disturbance in our sleep cycles.

    Neglecting your mental well-being is one of the shortest routes to sleep issues like EDS or other sleep disturbances.

    Medications

    A great number of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can affect your sleep and cause you to suffer from EDS, or at least cause you to sleep too much, feel tired, not energized, drowsy and so on.

    Generally speaking, we’re talking about painkillers and opioids like Vicodin and OxyCotin, or antidepressants like Prozac. But excessive sleepiness can also be caused by antihistamines used to treat allergies or antipsychotics used to treat bipolar disorder or Alzheimer’s.

    an image of various medications

    Changing time zone

    Jet lag is a common cause for excessive daytime sleepiness, especially as it is hard to sleep on a plane, and out of all the causes we’ve named – this one’s the best you could hope for unless the reasons for your sleepiness are irregular sleep schedule and bad lifestyle habits.

    Changing time zones can disrupt your “inner clock” and cause you to become sleep deprived because you physically can’t stay asleep because of the differences in time zones which are not on par with your regular sleep schedule.

    If this is the case, you’ll usually recover in a few days.

    How to treat EDS?

    Now that we are familiar with various causes for excessive sleepiness, let’s find out what we can do to treat it, or possibly even cure it.

    Optimal sleep environment

    The amount of sleep isn’t the only thing you should focus on. Just as more sleep doesn’t equal better sleep, less sleep also doesn’t. You’ll want to work on your sleeping environment. Your goal should be falling asleep fast, practicing good sleep hygiene, and enjoying a night of quality sleep.

    An an ideal sleeping environment.

    Do that by eliminating all the light and noise sources from your bedroom. Get blackout curtains, leave your phone out of the bedroom, don’t look at the screen at least an hour before bedtime, and finally get yourself a comfy mattress and a pillow. If you do that, there is a good chance that you’ll wake up rested and won’t’ feel sleepy during the day.

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    Stop drinking coffee, alcohol or drugs

    Coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs – all of these will disrupt your sleep cycle and cause you to lose sleep or become sleepy during the daytime. So, stop it!

    You could treat yourself to a cup of coffee in the morning or early afternoon. After all, coffee is good for your health, but the caffeine will keep you buzzed and awake – especially if you’re sensitive to it.

    The same applies to alcohol. An occasional glass of wine won’t do you any harm, but too much alcohol also won’t do you any good. So, just stop drinking – especially before going to bed.

    As for cigarettes and drugs – we don’t really feel like we need to tell you why you shouldn’t use them. You already know.

    an image of a woman saying no to alcohol

    Exercising on a daily basis

    Exercise is your friend, whether you have trouble sleeping or not. The best way to end your day with low energy and fall asleep faster is by tiring yourself during the day. The best way to do that? Exercise.

    You don’t have to work out like a professional athlete, but moving around, jogging or running, doing yoga, lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises will all help you fall asleep during the night. Not the mention all the positive effects exercise will have on your general health. Your immune function will improve, you will lose weight, you will become stronger, and so on.

    However, avoid working out before you go to bed, or least exercises that are not good prior the bed time. The exercise will raise your blood pressure and get you all worked up, which is precisely the opposite of what you’d want.

    If you want, you could do breathing exercises before bed. Those could make you sleepy.

    An image of a young woman stretching before a workout.

    Pharmacological treatment with medications

    If an underlying health issue causes the EDS, you might need to consult with your healthcare provider, have your case medically reviewed, and rely on prescription drugs to treat your condition.

    These drugs could be various, depending on the condition you’re being treated for. The drawback is, some of these medications, as we have already mentioned, could cause sleepiness, if you’re being treated for depression, for instance. So, this will be a double-edged sword, so it might be a while until you end up with the right therapy.

    Short & controlled day

    Another way to treat EDS is by getting enough sleep during the night, and one of the ways through which you can achieve that is by properly planning your day. By that, we don’t necessarily mean that you plan every portion of your day. Instead, we mean that you should make sure you get to bed, on time and at the exact same time, every single day.

    That way, you’ll give your mind and body time and the opportunity to adjust to your new sleep schedule, which could very well result in a complete lack of EDS. Once you develop a habit of waking up early, you will start feeling much better.

    So, go to bed on time, at a reasonable hour, and don’t spend your nights in front of a screen, scrolling through social media until 3 am. Keep your day short!

    So - why do I sleep so much all the time?

    As you can see, there are a myriad of reasons as to why we sleep so much. It could be depression, shift-work sleep disorder, narcolepsy, lifestyle habits, underlying health conditions, and so on.

    The only way to know why is to either visit a doctor or revisit your habits. Nine times out of ten, the answer’s hidden in one of those two places. Hopefully, it is the other one.

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