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What are the Different Causes of Excessive Sleeping?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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Excessive sleeping, also known as hypersomnia, occurs when a person sleeps too much every night for two weeks or more. This equals about ten hours of sleep per night for an adult. The causes of excess sleeping are usually tied to day to day habits that can be changed to help treat excessive sleeping problems. Excessive sleeping can lead to lethargy or sluggishness during daytime hours, accompanied by an urge to take naps, a feeling of apathy, difficulty getting motivated for simple tasks, difficulty paying attention, and difficulty retaining information. One of the most common causes of excessive sleeping is depression.

Depression is a state of feeling sad, hopeless, or otherwise melancholy for several weeks to several years. Depression often goes untreated, which means the sleeping disorders that can be associated with depression also go untreated. While depression can lead to insomnia, it can also lead to excessive sleeping. A sufferer may feel unmotivated to get out of bed, may sleep at odd times throughout the day, and may feel no reason to stay awake at night. The excessive sleeping can actually exacerbate depression, and vice versa.

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Temporary changes in daily routines can also lead to hypersomnia. It is not uncommon for one to sleep more after moving to a new location in a different time zone, for example, to allow the body to adjust to the new schedule. One's sleep schedule can become more permanently disrupted during such moves, though choosing to wake up and go to sleep at specific hours can correct hypersomnia in this case. Medications can also cause hypersomnia, and ceasing the intake of the medications usually leads to an end to excessive sleeping. This may take several days or even weeks to happen, as the chemicals in the medication eventually leave the body.

More serious causes of hypersomnia include brain damage and illnesses such as mononucleosis. Even common colds can cause hypersomnia as the body battles to fight an infection or bacteria. Brain damage resulting from a blow to the head or other injury can alter sleeping patterns permanently, and such conditions should only be treated by professionals in the medical field. Hypothyroidism is another illness that can alter sleeping patterns and promote excessive sleep, and this illness is usually treated with medication.

People who are overweight are generally considered to be more at risk for hypersomnia, which can also exacerbate weight gain. The body's metabolism slows during sleep, meaning the body produces less energy, which in turn makes it more difficult to burn fat and lose weight.

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anon339979
Post 4

My partner rarely comes to bed before four in the morning and then will sleep for up to sixteen hours. he misses meals because I won't cook for him if he is asleep (I have thrown hundreds of meals away). He doesn't understand when I get angry because I spend almost all of my time alone. He works away Tuesday through Thursday and then pretty much sleeps Friday through until Tuesday. We're never in bed at the same time. I have the opposite problem and sleep about six hours. So when he is home we spend as little as two hours a day together.

robert13
Post 3

@goldenmist - I've been using a CPAP machine for a few years now and have found it be really helpful. It's a kind of mask that you wear while you're sleeping with the mask being attached to a machine which pumps pressurized air into the mask. It can be uncomfortable to wear but you get used to it, and at least you don't need to worry about falling asleep at the wheel or something terrible like that. The machines are relatively quiet as well; it's almost kind of soothing in the same way an electric fan can be.

goldenmist
Post 2

@robert13 - I think I might be exhibiting sleep apnea symptoms. Do you know what kind of treatment is available for this?

robert13
Post 1

The standard scale used to measure daytime sleepiness is called the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. I actually had to find this out the hard way, by having severe sleep disturbances.

You can take the test online and if you score over 10, take it to your doctor. You might have to participate in a sleep study to determine if you have any sleep disturbances such as sleep apnea. This means you might be waking up several times per hour without realizing it which would most likely be the cause of your excessive daytime sleepiness.

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