Do You Know That Oversleeping Can Be Harmful?

You must have heard that getting a good amount of sleep is extremely important to maintain good health. That’s right. But do you know that oversleeping or excessive daytime sleepiness can be the sign of impaired health?

Yes, if you have been struggling with a feeling of being sleepy all the time and you have no clue about the cause of it then it can be a result of some underlying condition. Everyone has some days when he or she feel sleepy and it is often due to a busy lifestyle and too many late nights. But, it cannot be the case all the time. Sometimes it is due to other health problems.  

Normally, an infant should get 14 to 17 hours of sleep per night. A teenager should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep and an adult should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep.  

Possible causes of oversleeping

Excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the common complaints that is diagnosed in patients suffering from neurological disorders. Some of the health problems that can be the cause of oversleeping or excessive daytime sleepiness.

1. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder which itself is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. Excessive daytime sleepiness states an inability of a person to stay awake and alert during the important periods of the day. In this neurologic condition, the brain is unable to control sleep wake cycle and the sleepiness occurs in the form of repeated and irresistible sleep attacks. Excessive daytime sleepiness is the most disabling symptoms of narcolepsy and also the very first symptom to occur.

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All people suffering from narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness. The exact cause of this disease is not known yet but researchers believe that narcolepsy is the result of the low levels of the brain chemical, hypocretin. The part of the brain that controls falling asleep do not function properly and might make you fall asleep without any warning during the daytime when an individual should be awake and active.

The onset of the symptoms of narcolepsy can be gradual or sudden. Excessive daytime sleepiness is the first symptom of narcolepsy and later it is accompanied by other symptoms such as sudden muscle weakness, hallucination, sleep paralysis and sleep disruption.

2. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is defined as an underactivity of the thyroid gland and it is a condition in which the thyroid gland in the body is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone and results in the slowing down of the body processes. The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland that is located in the lower front of the neck and is responsible for making thyroid hormones. It primarily makes two hormones – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid hormones are important for various body functions such as metabolism and are somewhere responsible for normal functioning of various body organs.

Hypothyroidism is associated with many symptoms and some of the classic symptoms of hypothyroidism include extreme tiredness, weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation, and dry skin and hair. With hypothyroidism, alterations in sleeping habits are very common such as excessive daytime sleepiness and prolonged nighttime sleep.

Numerous studies suggest that most patients having symptomatic hypothyroidism also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that disrupts the sleep as it causes breathing problems during sleep. Excessive sleepiness and extreme tiredness are the most common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea.

Excessive daytime sleepiness is the most common complaint of people suffering from epilepsy. It is a disorder that is characterized by recurrent seizures and it is caused due to the disruptions in the brain’s usual activity. Seizures are defined as sudden and an uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain that causes changes in the behavior, movements and conscious level of the mind.

The brain abnormality in epilepsy can result from genetic disturbances or from structured that can be inherited or acquired. In simple terms, some of the causes of epilepsy include brain abnormality, stroke, brain tumor, infections that affect the brain, and genetic factors. Epilepsy affects an individual’s consciousness level.

3. Epilepsy

Brain abnormalities are closely associated with the sleep disorders. Epilepsy causes interictal epileptic discharges and arousals from sleep. This sleep disruption is the major cause of excessive sleepiness. Excessive sleepiness is a common side effect of epilepsy. In fact, epilepsy is associated with many sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, idiopathic hypersomnia and periodic limb movement in sleep. The occurrence of any of these sleep disorders can be the cause of excessive daytime sleepiness along with prolonged nighttime sleep.

Most often, daytime sleepiness is ignored. But it is important to identify every warning sign so that it can be treated before diagnosing any serious disorder. Share it with your people to create awareness. Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!!


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Jim Carson

Jim Carson is the writer for the mental health section of He is certified in clinical mental health counselling and has conducted cognitive behaviour therapy for war veterans struggling with PTSD. Professionally and personally, Jim is an astute observer of human behaviour that reflects well in his work.