Part Two: What Does It Mean If You’re Sleeping Too Much?

In the conclusion of a two part look at what too much sleeping might mean for your health, we wrap up with some very specific advice.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

• Idiopathic Hypersomnia: This mouthful is connected to narcolepsy or that sudden onset sleep disorders that the kind of folks who like Adam Sandler movies would find amusing. But, Salas insists that it’s a warning sign that something is wrong with everything from the brain to the waist line. 

“It’s an alteration in the neurotransmitters within the brain, such as orexin or hypocretin. Sleep duration has been associated with changes in appetite hormones which can impact a person’s weight.”

• Diabetes: Too much sleep can’t cause diabetes. That falls to genetics, lifestyle, diet, etc. But, in a nasty cycle, unbalanced blood sugar can both feed off of and lead to fatigue. So. you might be sleeping too much because your blood glucose levels are in trouble, and you’re not dealing with that while you’re in bed.

• Depression: Mood is a chicken or egg question in sleep circles. Depressed people tend to sleep more due to lack of energy or a desire to escape conscious emotions. But, a tendency to sleep too much can also cause a mood disturbance or feed a pre-existing emotional problem.

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Claudia Ressel-Hodan, PSYD is a clinical psychology and cognitive therapist practicing across the country. She insists, just as action produces action, sleep leads to more sleep. And, sleeping beyond a typical seven to eight hours can contribute to a lack of production and increase the psychological consequences of anxiety and depression.

“When a person is not productive, there is an increase in negative self-talk,” Ressel-Hodan says. “For example: ‘I am useless. I can’t get anything done. I worry there is something wrong with me.’”

This negative ideation contributes to a major depression over time. Or, if depression is already present, it becomes less manageable.

• Anxiety: This nagging sense of dis-ease often lingers in tandem with depression, and too much sleep can feed its symptoms while the sufferer thinks he or she needs more rest to recover from an attack of the nerves.

“Anxiety is also increased by the fears of possible illness with too much sleep,” Ressel-Hodan adds. “Unconsciousness becomes a form of avoidance, which snowballs and becomes a bigger problem when faced.”

“To decrease sleep and resist this urge to hide behind closed eyelids, a daily routine is recommended. Having activities ready to substitute the desire for a nap and planning things to accomplish during the day are essential. Ending each day noting what you accomplished is paramount in changing the negative ideation present when oversleeping.”

• Seasonal Effective Disorder:Pelayo delineated S.A.D. from other mood disorders. He said this breed of depression can be caused by our mammalian need to sleep more during the darker winter months.

We’ve evolved from creatures who hibernated a bit more during the colder months to conserve their energy. The Circadian Rhythms within the brain responds to light and dark in the environment to govern our minds and bodies. That instinct to sleep more in the winter can throw off that rhythm and mess with our system.

“There’s a seasonality of sleep, but the amount you need to feel rested shouldn’t increase,” Pelayo says. “Too much sleep throughout a day throws off the cycle, and S.A.D. can result — leaving you with no zest to start the day.”

• Sleep Drunkenness: Also called Sleep Inertia, this undesirable brand of drunkenness emerges from the body’s Homeostasis. By deliberately oversleeping to “catch up” on your rest can do more harm than good.

“Essentially, the longer you’re awake, the more sleep you need,” Pelayo explains. “It’s your body trying to balance itself. But, catching up on your sleep doesn’t work well because your body produces difference hormones while asleep and awake. They end up clashing. You can end up with a lingering sense of fuzziness because of this resulting chemical imbalance — leaving you potentially unable to go about your day safely or effectively.”

In general, to stay on a healthy schedule, both Pelayo and Salas stressed a simple philosophy: “We sleep to live, not the other way around.”