Sleep Deprivation - Everything you Need to Know about Sleep Deprivation

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Sleep is essential for restoring the body and maintaining health. Memory, learning, emotions and social behaviors are all influenced by sleeping patterns.

The amount of sleep a person needs each night depends on age, general health and quality of sleep. While adults generally need seven to nine hours of sleep, teens and young children tend to need 10 or more hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation (n.d.). Regularly sleeping longer than these normal sleeping patterns is defined as “long sleeping.”

Symptoms and Causes of Long Sleeping

Most people would consider 10 hours of sleep to be sleeping too much, but long sleepers, who need more sleep than other people their age, can require anywhere from 10 to 12 or more hours of sleep each night to feel fully rested.

Long sleepers have normal quality sleep but have a consistent pattern of needing more sleep than most people. Long sleeping is a condition that starts during childhood, rather than the result of sudden changes in physical or emotional health. It is relatively rare, affecting about 2 percent of the population, according to the American Sleep Association (2007).

Common long sleeping symptoms include:

  • Feeling tired during the day with less than 10 hours of sleep
  • Having long sleeping patterns since childhood
  • Regularly sleeping more than 10 hours a day.

Long sleep can be a symptom of more serious medical conditions (such as depression), so understanding the factors that cause excessive sleep is important.

While the exact cause of long sleeping depends on multiple factors, possible causes of sleeping too much include:

  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Other sleep disorders or medical conditions, such as sleep apnea
  • Personality traits, such as a tendency to be introverted or to worry too much.

Treatment for Sleeping too Much

Because long sleepers sleep normally — just for extended periods of time — this condition doesn’t necessarily require treatment. Treatment for long sleeping only becomes necessary if the condition is a symptom of another condition, such as depression or substance abuse. In such cases, the underlying condition needs treatment, which may resolve excessive sleep issues.

The greatest challenge for long sleepers is balancing waking schedules with sleep requirements. This conflict can make long sleepers feel tired, irritable and sleepy throughout the day, potentially causing problems at work or home.

If sleep deprivation affects a long sleeper’s daily life, he or she may want to consult with a sleep specialist. Sleep specialists can help long sleepers determine how much sleep they actually need and suggest ways to add more sleep into each day without disrupting schedules.

If other issues (physical or emotional) cause people to start sleeping too much, consulting a doctor or sleep specialist can help identify the cause of excessive sleep and suggest treatments.

Resources

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2006). Long sleeper. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://www.sleepeducation.com/Disorder.aspx?id=24.

American Sleep Association. (2007). Long sleeping. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://www.sleepassociation.org/index.php?p=longsleep.

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How much sleep do we really need? Retrieved September 1, 2010, from http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need.

 Posted on : June 1, 2014