Hypersomnia, an excessive need to sleep.

Problems related to lack of sleep, such as insomnia, are well known. However, less commonly mentioned are the disorders caused by too much sleep, called hypersomnia. Sleep considered to be normal generally lasts between 7 and 9 hours per night.

Sleep is essential in many ways. Among other things, it’s beneficial for memory and tissue health, such as the heart and blood vessels that repair themselves at night when we sleep. It also improves learning, the immune system and regulates hormonal balance.

Below are some factors that influence the need for more sleep:

– Age (the younger we are, the more sleep we need)
– A high level of physical activity (need to repair tissue)
– Fighting off a disease or virus
– Previous nights’ sleep too short
– A recent stressful event
– An intense sports event, like a marathon

It would also seem that about 2% of the population is comprised of people who naturally need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night. These individuals fall into the “long sleepers” category. It has nothing to do with health problems. Their body simply needs a longer period to sleep. In fact, the main disadvantage for those affected, is the lack of time during the day to complete their daily activities!

However, according to Dr. Shanon Makekau from the sleep lab at Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu, a sudden change in the hours of sleep required can indicate underlying issues. To go from sleeping 7 hours per night, to suddenly needing 10 hours per night is something to worry about. Often this sudden urge is accompanied by symptoms related to fatigue, dizziness, headaches, overall low energy levels and mood changes. They are to be taken very seriously since it could be a heart problem that requires urgent care.

To another extent, it could also be that it’s a case of sleep apnea, insomnia, shallow sleep, diabetes, depression or anxiety, or a neurological disorder, in addition to other possibilities.

In all of these cases, it’s important to investigate the symptom’s source to determine the proper treatment.