Sleep can be a tricky thing to get in balance, and most of us often wind up having too little, too much, or unbalanced sleep born out of disorganization and the lack of a good pattern.
Under certain physical circumstances, tiredness is a common side effect, and there are many different reasons why someone might have trouble staying awake.
Stress, depression, and chemical imbalances are all reasons for sleeping too much, as is a lack of fresh air, lack of exercise, poor diet, and lack of proper stimulation.
But let’s dive into some potential causes, and examine these in greater detail.
Too Much Sleep: The Causes
Whilst these reasons are not all-inclusive, and only reflect some examples of oversleeping, they can still play a larger role in not only our sleep, but our wider bodily health.
In the hectic modern world we live in, stress unfortunately plays a significant role in our lives.
This can cause problems or disturbances with our sleep, be it sleeping too much or not enough.
Stress can make us tired because our brains are literally under pressure, pressure that can exhaust us quicker than average brain waves.
While we get physically tired from excess activity, our brains are also subject to the same strains.
If stress manifests itself in the form of anxiety, this might also have the opposite effect, making sleep a difficult thing to achieve, at least for any period of time.
By its very nature, depression is a state of being that saps us of our strength, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Depression leads us to have less motivation for things like exercise, trips out, or being out in the fresh air.
It also often means we neglect our diets, self care routines, and general well being. This can make us sluggish and tired, meaning we sleep longer.
The quality of sleep associated with poor lifestyles also means that the quality of sleep will not be as restorative as usual, leading us to still be tired, even after a good few hours.
Similarly, the medication used to treat depression, such as SSRIs like Zoloft/Sertraline, carry many different side effects, amongst which is a feeling of drowsiness and a lack of energy.
This is because the drugs literally slow down your thoughts, allowing your brain to process things more clearly and in a more organized pattern.
And in the process, this means that particularly hectic days can feel twice as long when on medication.
Some brands and types of antidepressants also have a sedate effect designed to calm the users, as such this can translate to feeling tired and sluggish.
Exertion (And Lack Of)
It should come as no surprise that too much physical (or mental for that matter) exertion can make you feel exhausted and lead you to sleeping longer.
This is because physical and mental exertion requires time for our bodies and minds to recover, and longer periods of this require more sleeping time.
Similarly, people who live sedentary lifestyles without proper access to exercise or fresh air can often feel sluggish, low motivation, and depression, all of which can lead to sleeping longer and to a lesser degree of effectiveness.
Certain foods can make us feel more sluggish, influencing our sleep patterns, sleep durations, and the amount of general energy we feel.
Food is fuel for the engine after all, and the wrong foods provide the wrong kind of energy release.
Bad carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, and white pasta are all bad candidates, as are processed, fatty foods like cake, chocolate, and fast food.
Excess alcohol consumption can also cause fatigue. After all, alcohol is effectively a poison, and after consuming large quantities, the body and mind need time to recover, and not just from a hangover.
A lack of stimulation can also lead to fatigue and sleeping too much. If you aren’t challenging yourself physically and mentally, then your body will respond accordingly.
Repetitive processes that do not offer mental interest or stimulation can also lead to mental fatigue, as seen by people who work repetitive jobs, or inmates in prisons who spend a lot of time alone or without proper mental stimulation.
More Serious Reasons
Of course, if none of these things apply to you and your lifestyle, then there could potentially be something more serious at play.
It should be said however, that these should never be the first port of call when looking for the root cause of oversleeping.
Start with sensible lifestyle changes, and see what changes they can manifest.
Sleep disorders like narcolepsy and sleep apnea can also cause oversleeping.
Sleep apnea especially can go undiagnosed, and can cause blockages of the airwaves during the night that lead to less restorative and deep sleep.
Oversleeping can be a cause of head injuries, in fact sleep disorders are present in 30-70% of people with these injuries.
If you or someone you know has experienced a head injury that is causing these or other symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Dysfunctions of the autonomic nervous system can also cause sleep problems (too much or too little).
This can manifest in various breathing conditions (such as sleep apnea and hyperventilation syndrome) and involve cardiovascular and respiratory control.
Other Medical Conditions
Other medical conditions like asthma, chronic pain, acid reflux, psychiatric conditions, and other painful physical phenomena can cause imbalanced.
Or unrestful sleep, resulting in poor sleeping patterns, inefficient sleep quality, or too much sleep.
And there we have it, a rundown of some prominent factors behind excessive sleeping.
Whilst lifestyle factors and minor illnesses can cause oversleeping, these don’t begin to cover the whole story, and any accompanying side effects should be reported to a qualified physician as soon as possible.