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Do I Sleep Too Much?

by Claire

I am big sleeper. I like getting anywhere from 9-11 hours of sleep. Even 12 hours every so often. I've read that if you sleep too much you will also have troubles falling asleep, and being tired during the day and what not. However I do not experience any such issues.


I'm 18, nearly 19, and have always been someone who needs a lot of sleep. I'm overly cranky when I don't get enough. 7 hours or less and I'm a huge cow, 8 hours and I'm still sleepy during the day. On average I would say I get 10 hours a day. I can always fall asleep on command, never wake up before I need to, have vivid dreams, my only concern is that it is so much more than most people.

Thank you
Claire


Kevin: Hey Claire, thanks for writing in. Sleeping a lot consistently should definitely not make you tired during the day, but just the opposite. And you'll really only be at risk of having trouble falling asleep if your sleep debt is super low (like near zero), but typically just being awake through the daytime after a long sleep the night before will rack you up enough sleep debt to fall asleep without problem at your normal bed time.

In regards to how much you sleep, sleep need does vary from person to person, sometimes pretty considerably, for reasons no one really knows for sure. To know your own sleep need, a couple other questions should be asked. The first is do you sleep approx. 10 hours per night every night? Or do you sleep 10 hours one night, have a bit of trouble sleeping the next, and then return to 10 hours the night after? If it's more like the latter, your body is likely just needing to pay back your sleep debt. If it's 10 hours (or similarly high numbers) every night, your need could be higher than normal at this time in your life, unless...

...there's a sleep disorder at play. One common example is sleep apnea, which can force you to have hundreds of tiny awakenings during the course of the night that you can't remember when you wake up. So it feels like you've slept 10 quality hours, but you've really slept slightly less than 10 very tumultuous, interrupted hours. In a situation like this, maybe your real sleep need is 7 or 8 quality hours, but since you're getting low-quality sleep your body needs a greater amount. You can also read about other types of sleep disorders that can compromise the quality of your sleep here.

Dr. Dement likes to make a point during his lectures that there's no such thing as sleeping too much, and this is pretty solidly true if you're sleeping healthily. When your sleep debt gets to near zero and you're at optimum alertness and performance levels, it will be physically impossible to fall asleep without some major heavy drugs. Your body just can't. However, if you have a sleep disorder you could be unnecessarily sleeping more than you would need if the sleep was healthy. The key then is to identify what that sleep disorder is, learn as much as you can about it, and seek treatment.

Hope this info is helpful.

Warmly,
Kevin

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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

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