What can cause me to sleep too much?

Dr. Michael Breus, PhD
Psychology Specialist

People who are sleeping too much are often dealing with one or more of the following issues:

  • Depression. Depression is linked to both sleep deprivation and to excess sleep. Lethargy, feelings of being overwhelmed, and fatigue are all hallmarks of depression and can they themselves lead to too much sleep.
  • Illness. Excess sleep can be both symptom of and a risk factor for an underlying illness.
  • Unemployment. In today's difficult economy, many people are facing unemployment and under-employment. Being without a job can cause depression, stress and anxiety, which can wreak havoc with sleep. Losing a job also often means losing the schedule that goes with employment, and that loss of routine can lead to irregular bedtimes and wake times, and too much sleep.
  • Loss of a loved one. Difficult losses—whether by death, divorce or separation—take a deep toll, both physically and emotionally. These events can cause immediate and significant problems for sleep, including an increase in sleep to unhealthful levels.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

If you are having a hard time getting out of bed, let's narrow down what might be causing your excessive sleep.

  • Narcolepsy: Are you excessively sleepy during the day, so much so that you also fall asleep suddenly at inappropriate moments? Do you have realistic nightmares upon going to sleep and waking up? Do your muscles suddenly go slack? Any of these may indicate narcolepsy.
  • Sleep Apnea: Do you snore? (Not sure? Record yourself sleeping!) Do you wake up with a jerk or a gasp during the night? Are you excessively fatigued during the day? Ask your doctor for a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea. It's not exclusive to overweight people, and you may not even know you're sleeping poorly.
  • Anxiety: Do you stay awake late into the night, thinking, thinking, thinking? Do you think something bad is going to happen? Do you repeat events in your head, considering how you may have handled them differently? Anxiety may be disturbing your sleep quality.
  • Sleep Aids: Are you taking a sleeping medication to help you sleep? Some people are sensitive to cold medications and sleep aids, which may cause you to oversleep.
  • Depression: Do you have something to look forward to each day? Are you feeling overwhelmed or challenged by something you know can't get better? Are funny things not so funny right now?
  • Alcohol: Are you drinking more than one or two drinks per night?
  • Pregnant: Are you pregnant? Pregnant people often need more sleep.
  • Life: Do you have an irregular sleep schedule? Are you not eating well or getting enough exercise? Is your bedroom cool, dark, calm, and comfortable or is it bright, loud, interruptive, or stimulating?
  • Pain or other health condition: Do you have chronic pain? Are you taking medications? Do you feel sick? Are you sleep walking? Have you had a checkup recently? Your doctor will help you learn whether you are anemic, have chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, thyroid problem, or have another ailment that causes excessive sleeping.

Narrowing down the cause of your excessive sleeping will help you eliminate or manage it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.