What Is Excessive Sleeping?

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What Is Excessive Sleeping?

Excessive sleepiness is a common symptom of many sleep disorders. It typically occurs during the day, which is why it’s also referred to as excessive daytime sleepiness. Other names for the condition include hypersomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Research shows that around 20% of adults in the United States experience excessive sleepiness to the point that it affects their daily functioning. 

Excessive daytime sleepiness most commonly occurs in older people, teenagers, and people who work shifts. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of excessive sleepiness, that could be your body’s way of telling you that you are not getting enough sleep.

People with excessive daytime sleepiness often struggle to stay awake or alert during the day. They experience a strong desire to sleep and feel they’ll be unable to function properly if they don’t.

Experiencing this once in a while is normal and typically nothing to worry about; however, if you experience it daily for at least three months, you may have excessive daytime sleepiness. 

Symptoms of Excessive Sleeping 

Excessive daytime sleepiness might sometimes be confused with fatigue or weariness. It’s not unusual to feel sleepy the day after a restless or late night. Still, it’s unusual for this to occur several days in a row. If you are familiar with any of these symptoms, it might be a sign that you have excessive daytime sleepiness: 

  • Feeling irritable throughout the day 
  • Having difficulty concentrating 
  • Finding it difficult to remember certain things 
  • Finding it difficult to learn new things 
  • Having slower reflexes 
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Fatigue 
  • Sleeping for more than ten hours a day
  • Headaches
  • Hallucinations 

Complications of Excessive Sleeping

Excessive sleeping has far-reaching effects on the quality of your day-to-day life. It significantly reduces your quality of life, affects your academic and work performance, and disrupts your social life.

Research shows that children who have excessive sleepiness may also have developmental problems. In adults, it increases the risk of cognitive decline and memory loss.

Diagnosis of Excessive Sleeping 

The most telling sign of excessive sleepiness is feeling sleepy, tired, and sluggish during the day. For your doctor to determine that you have excessive daytime sleepiness and not just one stormy night of sleep, they’ll take you through a series of tests.

Sleeping Tests

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale and the Stanford Sleepiness Scale are both questionnaires used as screening tests to determine if a person has this condition. With the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, you may have excessive daytime sleepiness if you have a score higher than 10.

Your doctor will also ask for details on your medical history and any medications you may be on and carry out a physical evaluation on you. If you sleep with a partner regularly, it can also help if they come along during your assessment. Your partner can give your doctor further insight into sleeping patterns you might not have noticed. 

Causes of Excessive Sleeping 

There is no single cause of excessive sleepiness. In many cases, it’s linked to other sleep disorders. A leading cause of the condition is sleep deprivation, which people with conditions such as insomnia often experience.

However, excessive sleepiness isn’t only experienced by people with sleep disorders. Even the most minor disruption to your sleep pattern could cause excessive daytime sleepiness.

If you stay up late, catching only a few hours of sleep a night, you may feel sluggish, drowsy, and tired the following day, all signs of excessive sleepiness.

For the average person, this can be rectified by simply getting enough sleep and fixing your sleep schedule.

In severe cases, on the other hand, medical intervention may be required. Other causes of excessive sleeping include side effects of certain medications and medical conditions like depression andsubstance use disorder. Antihistamines, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines, and anti-depressants have all been linked to excessive daytime sleepiness. 

Sleep Disorders 

Excessive daytime sleepiness has commonly been linked to obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person to breathe abnormally while they are asleep. This, in turn, disrupts and reduces the quality of their sleep and can lead to daytime sleepiness.

Other sleep disorders that can cause excessive daytime sleepiness include restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, and circadian rhythm disorders.

Treatment for Excessive Sleeping 

In most cases, excessive sleeping is a sign of an underlying condition. Addressing the condition is typically the key to resolving excessive sleeping. If your doctor determines that it’s caused by your medication, you might either be switched to an alternative or have your dosage adjusted.

Provigil

If your doctor determines that you need medication to help alleviate your symptoms, they are most likely to prescribe Provigil (modafinil).

Provigil is approved by the United States Food and Drug Association (FDA) for treating excessive sleepiness in people with obstructive sleep apnea and shift work disorder. 

Coping With Excessive Sleeping 

Excessive daytime sleepiness can severely disrupt your daily functioning to varying degrees. As you work with your doctor to find a cause and treatment plan for your sleepiness, you can also employ specific coping techniques to make living with the condition more manageable.

Some great tips for dealing with excessive sleeping include: 

  • Get enough sleep: To fully function, the average adult should sleep between seven to nine hours every night. If you are getting less than this regularly, it may cause daytime sleepiness. 
  • Have a sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the exact times daily helps your body to learn your sleep-wake times. 
  • No blue lights before you sleep: When the quality of your sleep is disrupted, this can cause daytime sleepiness. One way to avoid this is by avoiding all blue light-emitting devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • No caffeine at night: Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you up and wired for hours. You should avoid drinking caffeinated drinks at least three to five hours before you sleep. 
  • Get going in the morning: When you wake up, go outside if you can to get some sunlight in your face, or do a quick stretch to get your body more awake and alert to take on the day.

A Word From Verywell

It’s not unusual to feel a little sleepy during the day occasionally. If you had a late night or slept fitfully, you are likely to catch yourself yawning more than a few times at work or school. A good night’s sleep should resolve this. However, if you often find yourself sleepy during the day, no matter what measures you take to fix it, disrupting your daily functioning, you should speak to your doctor about it. They’ll run a series of tests to determine the underlying cause of your sleepiness. 

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.