Everyone deserves a good sleep after a busy day.
However, we sometimes find ourselves struggling to stay awake despite having a fairly stressless day or even after having 8 hours of sleep overnight.
When all we want to do is sleep, it may be a signal that something might be wrong with our body.
In this article, we will go through the likely reasons why you feel sleepy very often and what you can do about it.
Let’s start by answering an all-important question about how long you should sleep.
How Long Should You Sleep?
The average adult human requires at around 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily. In some people, a culture of prolonged wakefulness means that they have adapted to sleeping for less.
In others, more sleep hours are necessary.
While many people have different sleep requirements (based on their lifestyle and time allocations), sleeping for longer than 10 to 12 hours is considered excessive, especially if it persists over time.
Like having too little sleep, excessive sleeping is a problem. It may also increase your risk of developing some diseases, like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and depression. In some cases, excessive sleepiness may even cause accidents or deaths.
Why Am I Sleeping Too Much?
You are sleeping excessively if:
- you cannot get out of bed in the morning
- you cannot seem to stay awake for long periods
- you need several naps to function.
There are a number of reasons why you may feel sleepy every time. It is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of a possible problem. Below are some common causes of excessive sleep.
1. Poor Sleep
This may be caused by a number of reasons, most notably sleeping for only a short period. Sleeping in an unfavorable sleep environment also causes you to get reduced sleep time, quality or both.
This eventually causes you to feel sleepy during the rest of the day. To surmount this, ensure that you get adequate sleep time every night. Also, prepare your sleep area for quality sleep by eliminating noise, electronics, and bright lights.
2. Poor Diet
This is a two-pronged issue that may lead you to sleep more than necessary. Firstly, eating too little willfully or by certain circumstances is sure to cause you to have less fuel for the day.
Additionally, eating the wrong food types (diets low in carbohydrates and fat) will only sustain you for a few hours, leading to fatigue in the long run.
It is quite easy to forget to eat when you are busy or to eat junk food but these are detrimental to your health. Make out time to eat a balanced well-cooked meal as often as possible. Don’t forget fruits and vegetables!
3. Recovering From An Illness
When you are ill or recovering from an illness, your body is not only less energized for the activities you normally would do, but is also geared up to fight offending microorganisms.
This is so because the body expends most of its energy in trying to restore balance by eliminating the disease-causing organisms. You may experience fatigue or feel sleepy during day time as your body recovers.
Stress in any form, mental or physical, wears you out. It leads to a situation of low energy and a lack of motivation. This can prompt the body to dim its performance in a bid to regain energy. Persistently being stressed causes you to oversleep.
You can reduce stress by eating healthy, exercising, forming and maintaining healthy and beneficial relationships, and segregating your tasks with the hardest tasks done early in the day.
Although negative events are typically thought of as stressful, positive events like moving houses may also be stressful.
Excessive intake of alcohol is capable of causing your sleep pattern to change. It also leads to an overall poorer quality of sleep. This may cause you to feel sleepy outside your bedtime.
You should work at cutting down your alcohol intake to address this. Caffeine, sleep pills, tranquilizers and medications for other health problems (like antihistamines and antipsychotics) can also distort your sleep pattern.
6. Drinking Too Little Water
Water is necessary for your body to function well. It makes up about 60% of our bodies. About 3 liters of water is needed daily. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches and muscle aches.
One of the commonest symptoms of depression is excessive sleepiness. While other symptoms take center stage, excessive sleepiness or a sudden change in sleep pattern is a less discussed symptom of depression.
It goes hand-in-hand with the typical symptoms seen in depression, like deep sadness, a loss of appetite, stress, and fatigue.
If you notice that you are oversleeping and have one or more of the following, you may be depressed:
- If you are persistently sad
- If you notice a loss of pleasure in previously pleasurable activities
- If you are suddenly forgetful
- If you notice a change in your appetite
- If you notice a decline in your sex drive
- If you have a reduced will to carry out activities of daily living
It is very important to discuss with your doctor if you think you are depressed and to continue with your management plan if you are already diagnosed and have started treatment. Anxiety and a fear of failure can also cause you to lose any will to do any activity, causing a prolonged stay in bed.
8. Sleep Disorders
Getting quality sleep and lying in bed asleep for several hours is not the same. You may be in bed for several hours but wake up tired, needing more sleep. This may be due to sleep disorders. There are a number of these disorders which cause you to have poor quality sleep.
For people with the following sleep disorders, daytime sleepiness is a common theme.
- narcolepsy (a sleep disorder caused by the failure of the brain to regulate sleep cycles leading to excessive daytime sleepiness)
- sleep apnea (a breathing disorder that affects sleep patterns and quality)
They typically do not have good sleep, despite spending hours in bed. Good sleep is a function of duration and quality.
To address this, it is important to see your doctor if you often wake up feeling tired every time. If you snore or have other sleep disorders, like sleepwalking, it is imperative to see your doctor.
Other diseases, like the flu or asthma, may also cause you to feel sleepy after long hours in bed, due to the poor quality of sleep in those hours.
9. Heart Disease
It may appear strange that having a heart disease may cause you to sleep more, but it is, in fact, quite understandable. Your heart is tasked with pumping blood around the body which, in turn, nourishes and energizes all the body’s tissues, organs, and systems.
In heart disease, the work of the heart is reduced, leading to sub-optimal pumping and increased fatigue. The fatigue is awful after carrying out physical tasks that were simple, like using the stairs.
People with heart disease often compensate for this by sleeping. They often need several naps during the day and may sleep at inappropriate times, like at work or even while driving.
If you have chest pain, are breathless after a few tasks, and have swollen feet, speak to your doctor about it immediately.
10. Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes, the disorder of impaired sugar control, may cause you to oversleep. Glucose is the fuel for the body and the end result of the breakdown of our food.
In diabetics, sugar is left in the blood, unable to enter into cells where they are used for energy. This leaves them perpetually tired and often sleepy.
Infections and inflammation also cause one to feel sleepy. The risk for infections and inflammation is higher in diabetics.
You may have diabetes if you oversleep and have been:
- Increasingly thirsty
- Peeing too much
Talk to your doctor if you have the aforementioned symptoms and/or are already diagnosed with diabetes. A simple blood test is used to confirm a diagnosis of diabetes and management is then started. Diabetes cannot be cured but can be controlled.
This simply means that the thyroid gland, located in front of your neck is working below its normal threshold.
The hormones which the thyroid gland secretes are responsible for the body’s metabolism, or degree of activity, amongst other things.
When it is working sub-optimally, food and liquids ingested are converted into energy for the body much slower than normal. This leads to a feeling of prolonged tiredness and weight gain.
12. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
This, also known as myalgic encephalopathy, is a disease condition in which you may be fatigued for months, without any known cause.
The fatigue often leads one to spend much more time in bed than necessary, shirking other necessary activities for the day. It may lead to severe impairment and disruption of one’s life.
This simply means the reduction in the number of red cells in the blood. These cells are responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to all the cells of the body.
Anemia may be caused by many things, which may be obvious like a road traffic accident or your periods, or a lack of an important nutrient in your food, like vitamin B12 or iron deficiency anemia.
Of all the causes of excessive sleep explained above, the commonest is poor sleep.
In any case, it is best that you are reviewed by your doctor so that other causes may be ruled out. When all other causes but poor sleep are ruled out, what you need to do to remedy this is to improve your sleep hygiene.