Sleeping disorders sleep too much

Sleep disorders: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

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Sleep disorders are problems with sleeping. These include trouble falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at the wrong times, too much sleep, and abnormal behaviors during sleep.

There are more than 100 different sleeping and waking disorders. They can be grouped into four main categories:

  • Problems falling and staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Problems staying awake (excessive daytime sleepiness)
  • Problems sticking to a regular sleep schedule (sleep rhythm problem)
  • Unusual behaviors during sleep (sleep-disruptive behaviors)


Insomnia includes trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Episodes may come and go, last up to 3 weeks (be short-term), or be long-lasting (chronic).


Hypersomnia is a condition in which people have excessive daytime sleepiness. This means they feel tired during the day. Hypersomnia can also include situations in which a person needs to sleep a lot. This may be due to other medical conditions, but can also be due to a problem in the brain. Causes of this problem include:

  • Medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia and low thyroid function
  • Mononucleosis or other viral illnesses
  • Narcolepsy and other sleep disorders
  • Obesity, especially if it causes obstructive sleep apnea

When no cause for the sleepiness can be found, it is called idiopathic hypersomnia.


Problems may also occur when you do not stick to a regular sleep and wake schedule. This occurs when people travel between time zones. It can also occur with shift workers who are on changing schedules, especially nighttime workers.

Disorders that involve a disrupted sleep schedule include:

  • Irregular sleep-wake syndrome
  • Jet lag syndrome
  • Shift work sleep disorder
  • Delayed sleep phase, as in teenagers who go to sleep very late at night and then sleep until noon
  • Advanced sleep phase, as in older adults who go to sleep early in the evening and wake up very early


Abnormal behaviors during sleep are called parasomnias. They are fairly common in children and include:

  • Sleep terrors
  • Sleepwalking
  • REM sleep-behavior disorder (a person moves during REM sleep and may act out dreams)

Insomnia; Narcolepsy; Hypersomnia; Daytime sleepiness; Sleep rhythm; Sleep disruptive behaviors; Jet lag

  • Irregular sleep
  • Sleep patterns in the young and aged

Avidan AY. Sleep and its disorders. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 101.

Sateia MJ, Thorpy MJ. Classification of sleep disorders. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Goldstein CA, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 69.

Updated by: Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, VA New Jersey Health Care System, Clinical Assistant Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

Is Too Much Sleep Harmful?

Written by Hilary Parker

When it comes to sleep, can you have too much of a good thing? It's true a good night's sleep is essential for health. But oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and increased risk of death.

Researchers are careful to note, however, that two other factors -- depression and low socioeconomic status -- are strongly associated with oversleeping. Those two factors may be the reason for the observed negative health effects. For example, people of lower socioeconomic status may have less access to healthcare and therefore more undiagnosed illnesses, such as heart disease, which, in turn, may cause oversleeping.

Oversleeping: How Much Sleep Is Too Much?

The amount of sleep you need varies significantly over the course of your lifetime. It depends on your age and activity level as well as your general health and lifestyle habits. For instance, during periods of stress or illness, you may feel an increased need for sleep. But although sleep needs differ over time and from person to person, experts typically recommend that adults should sleep between seven and nine hours each night.

Why Do People Sleep Too Much?

For people who suffer from hypersomnia, oversleeping is actually a medical disorder. The condition causes people to suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day, which is not usually relieved by napping. It also causes them to sleep for unusually long periods of time at night. Many people with hypersomnia experience symptoms of anxiety, low energy, and memory problems as a result of their almost constant need for sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that causes people to stop breathing momentarily during sleep, can also lead to an increased need for sleep. That's because it disrupts the normal sleep cycle.

Of course, not everyone who oversleeps has a sleep disorder. Other possible causes of oversleeping include the use of certain substances, such as alcohol and some prescription medications. Other medical conditions, including depression, can cause people to oversleep. And then there are people who simply want to sleep a lot.

Medical Problems Linked to Oversleeping

Diabetes. Studies have shown that sleeping too long or not enough each night can increase the risk for diabetes.

Obesity. Sleeping too much or too little could make you weigh too much, as well. One recent study showed that people who slept for nine or 10 hours every night were 21% more likely to become obese over a six-year period than were people who slept between seven and eight hours. This association between sleep and obesity remained the same even when food intake and exercise were taken into account.

Headaches. For some people prone to headaches, sleeping longer than usual on a weekend or vacation can cause head pain. Researchers believe this is due to the effect oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. People who sleep too much during the day and disrupt their nighttime sleep may also find themselves suffering from headaches in the morning.

Back pain. There was a time when doctors told people suffering from back pain to head straight to bed. But those days are long gone. You may not even need to curtail your regular exercise program when you are experiencing back pain. Check with your doctor. Doctors now realize the health benefits of maintaining a certain level of activity. And they recommend against sleeping more than usual, when possible.

Depression.. Although insomnia is more commonly linked to depression than oversleeping is, roughly 15% of people with depression sleep too much. This may in turn make their depression worse. That's because regular sleep habits are important to the recovery process.

Heart disease. The Nurses' Health Study involved nearly 72,000 women. A careful analysis of the data from that study showed that women who slept nine to 11 hours per night were 38% more likely to have coronary heart disease than women who slept eight hours. Researchers have not yet identified a reason for the connection between oversleeping and heart disease.

Death. Multiple studies have found that people who sleep nine or more hours a night have significantly higher death rates than people sleeping seven to eight hours a night. No specific reason for this correlation has been determined. But researchers found that depression and low socioeconomic status are also associated with longer sleep. They speculate these factors could be related to the observed increase in mortality for people who sleep too much.

Get the Benefits of Sleep Without Oversleeping

If you average more than seven or eight hours of sleep per night, see a doctor for a checkup. The doctor can help you determine why you oversleep.

If your oversleeping is caused by alcohol or certain prescription medications, cutting back on or eliminating the use of these substances may help. Never stop a prescribed medicine, however, unless instructed to do so by your doctor. Similarly, if your oversleeping is caused by an underlying medical condition, treating this disorder may allow you to return to normal sleep habits.

Regardless of the cause of your oversleeping, practicing good sleep hygiene will help you reap the benefits of a healthy seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Experts recommend keeping the same bedtimes and wake times every day. They also recommend avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime. Exercising regularly and making your bedroom a comfortable environment that's conducive to sleep will help you get the amount of sleep you need.

Sleeping too much is bad too? Myths and facts about healthy sleep

According to the VTsIOM survey, half of our fellow citizens sleep soundly at night, and their number has decreased over ten years. However, this figure may be too optimistic. After all, many do not notice that their sleep is disturbed. And the consequences can only be assessed years later, when problems accumulate.

Here are some common misconceptions that keep us from taking care of our sleep.

Myth #1. Only lack of sleep is harmful, not excess

Regular lack of sleep puts a person at risk of serious diseases, including obesity, coronary heart disease and diabetes, and generally shortens life expectancy. Even one night of poor sleep can increase the risk of overeating, impair attention and memory. A study published in Scientific Reports in 2016 found that people who regularly sacrifice sleep show signs of heart wear and tear, even at a young age.

But the enumeration does not go harmlessly. According to data presented by a Chinese-Canadian group of scientists in 2018, people who sleep more than eight hours a day have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Hypersomnia - excessive need for sleep, daytime sleepiness - may indicate metabolic disorders and diseases. nine0003

Excessive daytime sleepiness may mean that the person is not getting enough rest during normal sleep. For example, due to sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing is sometimes interrupted during sleep. Restless legs syndrome, bruxism (teeth grinding), narcolepsy, and hormonal disorders can be causes.

On this topic

Constant oversleeping in itself leads to malfunctions in the daily rhythms of the body. Because of this, the risks of diseases associated with metabolism increase. For example, researchers from the Canadian University of Laval found that those who slept too much (or, conversely, not enough) show signs of impaired tissue sensitivity to glucose - this is the primary stage of diabetes. nine0003

Myth #2. Lack of sleep on weekdays can be compensated for on weekends

Sleep has its own bookkeeping. If today we "borrowed" some time from him for work or entertainment, you can't just return it after two days' sleep. Research suggests that the damage from lack of sleep persists even if you manage to “balance” by the end of the week.

For example, researchers at Baylor University in Texas found that design students who alternated between sleepless nights and bed marathons performed worse on their projects. They had trouble concentrating during class and were generally less productive than those with a more even schedule. nine0003

And the work, published in 2019 in the journal Current Biology, finally dispelled the myth about the possibility of compensating for "sleep debt" without consequences. Those participants who followed this pattern experienced the same problems as those with chronic sleep deprivation: excess weight due to an excess of high-calorie foods, low insulin sensitivity (a precursor to diabetes), and reduced energy levels.

Myth #3. Lack of sleep is always noticeable

In other words, if you don't get enough sleep and don't feel low energy and concentration, it seems that there is nothing wrong. For example, in the manic phase of bipolar affective disorder, a person may constantly feel high and have little or no need for sleep. But in the depression phase, fatigue will make itself felt. nine0003

Sometimes - if we miss just a little, half an hour or an hour - the consequences may not be so noticeable. Research shows that people can adapt to chronic sleep restriction and not feel sleepy. Although their physical and mental performance declines, they may no longer be at their peak of productivity.

On this topic

If we are used to "pinching off" pieces of sleep here and there, this does not go unnoticed for the body. Violations occur at the level of circadian rhythms - cycles of biological activity, which are subject to all body systems. The consequences are clearly visible in the example of workers with non-traditional schedules (for example, a day after three) - they have an increased risk of cancer, cognitive impairment and early death. nine0003

Myth #4. One can learn in sleep

A person is really capable of receiving and analyzing information during sleep. Participants in a study published in 2017 in the journal Nature were actually able to remember some of the words they heard in their dreams. At the same time, this concerned only periods of REM sleep (it was determined using an electroencephalograph).

However, this was not enough to learn something essential, such as a foreign language or the rules of the road. Moreover, attempts to memorize even simple things (for example, passwords, names, or routes) are doomed to failure. The thing is that the brain does not catch the connection between words. nine0003

In 2018, a study was published in Scientific Reports detailing the possibility of sleep learning. In 26 participants, brain activity was recorded using magnetoencephalography in two states: when they were awake and in REM sleep. They were given sets of three related sounds to listen to and then asked to recall them over time.

It turned out that people could not remember the logical connection between the sounds heard in a dream (that is, to distinguish which group they were from). In other words, the brain can perceive and record information received while a person is sleeping, but logical functions are disabled at this moment. nine0003

Myth #5. It doesn't matter how and where to sleep, the main thing is how much

You can learn to fall asleep in the light and noise, in an uncomfortable position, but your sleep will not be healthy. Studies show that noise at night can cause increased production of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, as well as increase heart rate and blood pressure. All this worsens the quality of rest in general and affects health.

The same applies to sleeping in the light. A recent experiment by scientists from Northwestern University showed that even during sleep in moderate lighting, the heart rate increases significantly. The body cannot fully recover from daily stress. In the morning, the participants had decreased insulin sensitivity — the body could not efficiently use glucose from food for energy. nine0003


Posture also matters. Scientists believe that the load on the spine and especially the cervical region during sleep can cause headaches, pain in the neck and joints, and generally worsen the quality of sleep. Comparative studies show that the position "on the back, with arms along the body" provides the least muscle tension. In this case, the pillow should be moderately elastic.

Postures and physical activity during wakefulness also matter. In a 2020 article published in the journal Sleep Health, a research team led by Mitch Duncan found that people who move little during the day are the most likely to experience poor sleep quality and sleep the shortest. nine0003

Myth #6. In the evening you should refrain from physical activity

Late physical activity can complicate going to bed, as the body warms up, and metabolic processes accelerate, and time is needed to relax. However, there is evidence that evening exercise can improve sleep quality.

For example, the 2013 Sleep in America report found no association between exercising less than four hours before bedtime and sleep disturbances. The authors of another review study, based on data from 23 studies, found that light or moderate exercise in the same four hours before falling asleep does not disrupt sleep in healthy people. nine0003

In one experiment, 16 participants aged 21-25 were asked to complete questionnaires assessing their sleep and physical activity, and then they were divided into three groups: the first had to exercise two hours before bedtime, the second - four, the third - don't exercise at all. The intensity of training also varied.

The results showed that the quality of sleep improved in the group where the exercises were performed four hours before bedtime. In general, moderate workouts lasting one hour did not worsen the quality of sleep. nine0003

Myth #7.

Owls and larks are equally healthy

According to a common theory, each person has one of two chronotypes - with an early rise and early falling asleep (larks) and, conversely, with dates shifted to a later time (owls). The chronotype cannot be changed, but one can adapt to it. At the same time, attempts to change your chronotype, as it is believed, can lead to problems.

University of Manchester biologists led by Altug Didikoglu found that chronotype has some genetic basis, but about half of our preferences are influenced by environment, occupation and other factors. At the same time, the habit of going to bed late is associated with health risks. For example, late-night snacking can increase overall calorie intake, leading to obesity. Owls are also more likely to have hypertension. nine0003

But those who prefer early rises, their health turned out to be an order of magnitude stronger. Scientists have found that, in general, larks move more, smoke less, take less medication, and sleep better. As for the possibility of getting depressed, it is about the same in owls and larks, but it is lower in those who are not extreme types (that is, they do not stay up after midnight and do not get up before sunrise).

At the same time, studies do not confirm the opinion that it is impossible to change one's chronotype. In 2019In the same year, the results of a curious experiment were published in the journal Sleep Medicine. 11 owl volunteers had to adhere to daily routine and lifestyle instructions for three weeks, including getting up and going to bed two to three hours before usual time, not drinking coffee and caffeinated drinks after 15:00, eating regularly and having dinner no later than 19:00. The same number of participants had to adhere to the usual mode.

According to the results of the experiment, those participants who followed the instructions were able to successfully shift the time to go to bed by an average of 1.73 hours, and the time to wake up by 1.92 hours, with no change in sleep duration. Moreover, they scored lower on depression and stress questionnaires than before the experience. They also experienced a decrease in sleepiness and improved indicators of physical strength.

Anton Soldatov

the doctor spoke about the causes of sleep disorders

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We spend about a third of our lives in sleep, this is a necessary physiological process. nine0003

Our performance and general well-being depend on it. However, sometimes even if all the recommendations are followed, it is not possible to get enough sleep. Why is this happening? What conditions can cause sleep disorders? What is quality sleep? Sergei Khomyakov, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Chief Physician of INVITRO-Moscow , told about this.

What is quality sleep? How can a person understand that his sleep is of high quality?

Quality sleep is sleep in which a person does not experience difficulty falling asleep, lasts up to 7-8 hours (less often up to 6 or 9h), accompanied by 7-15 short awakenings of several seconds each when changing sleep phases. After quality sleep, a person feels cheerful and fresh and does not feel like sleeping during the day.

What can cause sleep disorders?

There are many reasons for sleep disturbance. An important role is played by external causes - noise, light, smells, poorly ventilated room, uncomfortable bed, pillow, change of time zone during flights, for example, and so on. Also, the quality of sleep can be affected by the state of the body, for example, various diseases, food intake, drugs, emotional state, watching TV and gadgets before bedtime, etc.

Why can a person sleep a sufficient amount of time in a normal environment, but not get enough sleep?

Sleep is cyclical. Sleep cycles include slow and fast phases. During slow sleep, the body recovers, anabolic processes occur, growth hormone is released, the brain processes and “packages” the information received during the wakeful period. In the phase of REM sleep, brain activity increases, the pulse rises and breathing quickens, active movements of the eyeballs appear. In this phase, the brain sorts the information received, during this period a person sees dreams. 4-5 cycles of about 9 are repeated per night0 minutes. It is better to wake up in REM sleep. If the alarm clock rings during the slow phase of sleep and you wake up, then there will be a feeling of fatigue and weakness that will accompany you throughout the day. If a person wakes up in REM sleep, then he will be alert, set to solve new problems and usually remember dreams.

Which diseases can cause sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders can cause various diseases and conditions.

Normally, entire structures responsible for changing the sleep-wake cycle compete in the brain. Any influence of factors, such as infection, toxins, excessive emotions, etc., on these structures can cause sleep disorders. nine0003

There are 6 types of sleep disorders:

  1. insomnia - insomnia,
  2. hypersomnia - excessively long sleep,
  3. parasomnia - sleepwalking, nocturnal muscle cramps, nightmares,
  4. circadian rhythm disorder,
  5. respiratory disorders,
  6. movement disorders during sleep.

Of the main diseases that can lead to sleep disturbance, it should be noted cardiovascular diseases, depression and neurosis, diabetes, thyrotoxicosis and hypothyroidism, asthma and sleep apnea, obesity, bulimia and anorexia, hyperacid gastritis, diseases of the urinary tract, kidneys. nine0003

Physiologically, in old age and in women during pregnancy, menopause, during menstruation, due to hormonal changes, sleep disturbances can also occur.

How can nutrition affect sleep quality? Why is it not recommended to eat right before bed?

It is recommended to eat 3-4 hours before bedtime. Dinner should not be plentiful, protein and complex carbohydrates should prevail in the composition of the dishes. An abundance of fiber, sugar-containing foods can lead to fermentation in the intestines and sleep disturbances. nine0003

Eating and digesting food requires active work of the body. Therefore, instead of resting, the brain and gastrointestinal tract will be busy digesting food, which will lead to difficulty falling asleep and disturbing the quality of sleep.

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