Long Sleeping

Long sleeping is an uncommon sleeping finding or disorder characterized by the body’s insistence on remaining asleep for longer periods of time than would otherwise be deemed typical. This commonly results in 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night for people with the findings, and less than that leaves them feeling un-refreshed and sleepy throughout the day.

The disorder often begins in childhood, and last throughout the subject’s life. The sleep itself is very normal and deep. The disorder has not been connected to any genetic traits, medical conditions or psychological issues, and remains a relative mystery.

Most long sleepers will be forced to endure shorter than desired sleep durations to keep up with life’s demands, and this can cause numerous symptoms related to insomnia the next day. It also accrues into what is called a sleep debt, which is routinely paid back on weekends when long sleepers will sleep as long as 15 hours to get caught up on lost sleep. Other long sleepers will choose to fully accept the condition and live within its restraints, going to bed at a time early enough to allow for at least 10 hours of sleep each night. Long sleepers will often find it difficult to wake up to alarm clocks, and may be difficult to wake by others, and should ideally set aside enough sleep time so that the body wakes up when it is naturally refreshed.

Long sleeping has been found in approximately 2% of the population, with men at a slightly higher rate of having it than women. It may be difficult to first detect in children, as they routinely sleep more than adults, and are often not given free reign to sleep in as long as desired. Allowing a child to sleep in on weekends and measuring the time slept could be a good indication of the presence of this disorder, if it surpasses 10-12 hours.

A link has been found connecting long sleeping with introverted personality types, which may have to do with the release or lack thereof of certain chemicals in the brain, but no conclusive evidence has been found, nor is there a cure. Long sleepers are advised not to fight the disorder, as it may lead to the development of other sleeping disorders or medical issues, but to instead live within its constraints as well as is possible under their circumstance, and achieve the most sleep that they possibly can without neglecting other aspects of their lives.

The possibility exists that the disorder could be caused by depression or another medical condition, and if it has only recently started, then this is likely the case. In these situations, being examined by a doctor, and having a thorough check of your medical and sleep history performed may root out the problem. In these cases you may be asked to perform an overnight sleep study, or polysomnogram, to have any other sleeping disorders uncovered if they exist. In most cases, maintaining a sleep diary will be enough for the doctor to go on and make a diagnosis in your case.

If the long sleeping is being caused by another issue, that issue should be resolved as soon as possible, at which point the offending long sleeping should dissipate. If the long sleeping is the cause of natural biological rhythms, possible treatments are unknown, and since the level of sleep is of high quality, it is recommended to incorporate the long sleeping into the daily routine as best as possible. Attempting to avoid long sleeping, or staying aggressively awake could lead to other sleeping disorders such as a non-24-hour sleep-wake rhythm disorder, which are far more damaging to social relationships and professional careers than a couple of lost hours of awake time each day.


Reviewed September, 2007

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38 thoughts on “Long Sleeping

  1. I regularly sleep 15+ hours a night. Sometimes sleeping last into the next day. And if my partner left me and didn’t wake (happened once or twice) I would sleep right through until 8pm or so the following day. I would then naturally awaken myself. I have been like this since childhood. And was extremely hard to waken as a child.

    1. Have you ever had any sleep related weirdness? Like overly vivid dreaming, repeated dream landscapes, or dreams about things that are part of your next day/week/month/year(s)? De-ja vu’s that are more than de ja vu’s? I am a long sleeper and this stuff happens to me all the time, when I was a kid they told me it was this or that, now that I’m an adult I can rationalise for myself what is coincedense and what is actually strange.

      1. Yes…i think of my dream life as my “other life”. People, places, etc. i’ve been too before in my dreams and have revisited quite a bit. I don’t know if it’s because i sleep alot and dream every night and that my mind has created another place, so to speak, that has people and places like my real life…that i can go to again.

        1. I can relate to both of you….i sleep 16 hours average at night/day and my dreams are like another life….same landscapes, people i make up. The deja vus last for more than 2 minutes sometimes..very vivid….long dreams. I can even go back to them if i wake up from a loud noise during the day

      2. one time about a year ago, I had a dream of me waking up in redwood city, california and getting off my bed and looking to the right, towards the window.. the bed had a golden jet lighter and a blue comforter and the bed frame was an old fashoned one… and on the wall was a tv that had a big brown speaker on the bottom of it with an xbox below it.. and what was really weird was I was living in seattle, washington, in a room that I was sharing with my sister, and I had never been in the room that I woke up in neither did I have the things that I woke up with in the dream, but 5 months ago I woke up exactly how I did in the dream! It was mind blowing when I woke up and realized I had a dream exactly like this situation 7 months ago, and I fainted but now Im a long sleeper and have really vivid dream like this, like a few weeks ago I had a dream I was racing with exotic cars, I got out of my car and shrunk it so I could pick it up to walk up some stairs, but then it turned into an inception dream where I woke up in a kitchen looking for sodium hydroxide and phosphorous, I dont know why but the physics in that dream made it so if I put the two together it would explode, then I asked a girl where it could be then she said can you help me and I said of course this is my dream, then we both had dream sex then I woke up in another dream on the couch I was sleeping on when I originally fell asleep, so i thought this dream was real, then my dad was there and brought me to my room, and the more I looked at my room the more futuristic it got! first it was just a chair and a tv then a floating remote, I tried to pick up the remote and woke up in reality. that was only one dream! but my dad thinks I dont have this disorder but I am tired through out the day and have been needing 16+ hours of rest, and at least 14 hours of deep sleep

        1. This sounds like one of my nightly dreams! I dream in color and can also talk out loud, waking myself up at times, but fall back asleep and continue my dream. It’s gotten to the point where I enjoy my “dream life” and can get there quickly most of the time, including getting up to go to the bathroom during the night. I love being able to enjoy my dreams! The downside is that I sleep up to 16 hours per night these days and I have trouble with feeling tired in the hours that I am awake. I feel like I could nap after even just one hour of being awake, but I don’t. I feel that way the entire duration of my waking hours. I also lack an appetite and suffer from nausea quite frequently when I first awake and at other waking times at random. Do you have any of those symptoms or side effects of long-sleeping?

      3. wow exactly. very vivid and all in color seem like a full story and continual.And yes i have had many a dream come true and that scares me. Ive been sleeping now 11 hrs a day and i wake at 11 usually. i do have to get up to use the bathroom once a night or early am and start falling back asleep in bathroom. i hit the bed and im out.

    2. Would be nice to email with someone who has this condition. I have it all my life and only just find now via this websight what i may
      Have. Its a relief.

      1. Hi David
        I have been a long sleeper all of my life. I am in my sixties now. I usually fall asleep around midnight and sleep until 10 or 11. If I go to bed later-and I tend to be a night owl- I will sleep until noon or 1. I am retired, so this is not an issue now. But during my working life I gravitated towards afternoon or evening jobs. If I get up after 8 hours of sleep I definitely feel bad when I get up and worse during the day. If I get less than 7 hours of sleep I sometimes get nauseated- which goes away as soon as I get a two to three-hour nap.

        Does this sound familiar?

        1. I cannot believe how similar your symptoms and sleeping pattern is to mine. I came here looking for information on sleeping up to 16 hours per night, nausea, and general aching/feverish feeling. It’s every single day and I cannot live like this and function!

      2. Hi – I have gone through 4 sleep studies at 2 top sleep clinics and the results have shown that I get no REM/restful sleep. I was also recently diagnosed as a long sleeper which I have had as long as I can remember. I’ve lost days as one post mentioned, sleeping all night and all the next day numerous times. I also experience vivid colorful dreams, talk in my sleep (waking myself up but going right back to sleep). If you want to talk further, you can email me.

        1. Hello Karen.. I would like to ask you a few questions about the sleep studies and clinics you went to… I have a similar problem sleeping 12 hours but I don’t have dreams.. Never had..is there any fix for this… I’ve had it since I was a kid…

          1. I had 2 studies done at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and 2 at Scripps in La Jolla, CA. Unfortunately there is no cure, only managing it. My doctor told me to take a nap each day, go out in sunlight for at least 30 minutes after awakening, go to bed at the same time each night. He said only 2% have this (I don’t know what to call it – illness, syndrome ?). Did you Google it? You will find information there. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. Hope this helps a little – I know, it sucks! And people/family members/work situations do not understand it or know about it because little is known about it; they usually chalk it up to laziness, which is far from the truth. It is very frustrating, I know!

    3. I wanted to sleep more than 6 hours, its just too difficult for me. My body automatically wakes me up early regrdless of what time I fell asleep.

    1. Well disorders are really just differenses in people that make there life qualety worse, because they dont work with how society curently is.
      So yhe they are just some people who needs more sleep.
      I think we should look at disorders a bit differently. A lot of people with disorders could work fine without help if they got in the right situation, like a fitting job, but not all ofcorse.

    2. trust me this is a disorder, you would know if you just need more sleep or if you have this disorder, imagine going to sleep one night at 9pm and waking the next with no energy what so ever at 3pm. wanting to sleep longer. that different then just needing a couple hours more of sleep.

  2. i sleep anywhere between 12-15 hours, when i have to sleep less i feel sick, i feel really tired to the point i can not function at school or work and i am falling asleep

  3. I sleep for 12 hrs a day regularly but I wake up some time when people around are so annoying, I dont really stand up and wake, I just try to sleep again, I dont like waking up in the morning because I feel like I get deprived hence I feel sad, when I dont get to have 12 hrs of sleep I get sad
    Yesterday, I slept for 15 hrs, I was tired and sleep deprived. Kinda feels unhealthy, because I skipped mealtimes

  4. Lately I have been sleeping 10-12 hrs a night, yesterday I got 12 hrs of sleep so I thought today maybe I would wake up earlier – nope! Another 12 hr sleep. I realized that when I was being forced o wake up early it would make me grumpy during the day. When I was a child I remember being woken by my ma but not getting out of bed because I was so lazy and didn’t feel refreshed at all, so I would have realistic dreams of waking up and moving on with my morning routine only to wake with 10 minutes to the bus. I guess I was just lazy. Could my excess sleeping pattern be related to o depression? My sister has depression but I have never been diagnosed.

    1. What if a person don’t sleep on time
      But when they sleep ,they sleep
      11 to 15 hours , sometimes 20 hours
      Is that normal?

      1. You would have what i have, where your body doesnt care what timeit is, either you go to sleep at 4pm and wake up and 9am or you go to sleep at 11pm and wake up at 3pm the next day
        it is not normal to need so much sleep neither is it normal to not sleep on time

  5. Thyroid problems can cause this. Have your thyroid checked by an integrative medical, not an endocrinologist. Also, Epstein Barr Virus, aka, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can affect sleep patterns, undersleeping or oversleeping, both unrefreshing sleep. Leaky gut, believe it or not can affect sleep. I have a partially empty sella, pituitary disorder that may be the cause as well.

  6. I’ve always slept for 11 hours each night and if I don’t get that then I am horribly drousy the rest of the day , my friends call me a party pooper for always going to bed early and nothing disturbeds me in the night. Its been like this since I was born. It’s hard to handle sometimes especially when I have to stay up late to work on school work and will sometimes fall asleep in school

  7. When given the chance, such as weekends, I fall asleep around 2-3 am, and sleep until 4 or 5 pm. If I have to wake up any earlier to go somewhere or do something, I go back to bed for another few hours when I get home to catch up. A nap to me is 3-4 hours. However, on school nights/weekdays I can fall asleep at 2am, wake up at 5:40am, and function perfectly throughout the day (I also take naps in some classeS), but I’m tired as soon as I get home. I too always thought I was just lazy. I always have an overwhelming feeling of being unable to get out of bed unless I’ve slept an adequate amount.

    1. Sounds like you have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome if you are not able to sleep until 2am. The reason you sleep so long on the weekends is because your body is seeking to make up the sleep deficit you incur during the week. You need to see a sleep specialist and seek a formal diagnosis, as DSPD cannot be cured, and knowledge is power. Being diagnosed young means you can pick the right career for this disorder, and you won’t end up health issues from chronic sleep deprivation.

  8. I dunno for the past year or so I have been sleeping 10-12 hours each night well not really night I guess, most days I sleep during the day, it’s the only way I get enough sleep as I will just stay up all night if i don’t force myself to sleep right after school. This has been making my social and school life harder

  9. I’m 17 years old and lately I’ve been getting way too much sleep. I’ve been heavily studying for exams, which has been causing me to get 3-4 hours of sleep a night. Now that exams are over, I’ve been coming home from school and laying in bed until I fall asleep, meaning I’ll sleep from 5 PM to 5 AM (yikes), but I’ll wake up once or twice between that time. I don’t fight the urge because it feels natural for some reason. I’m the type of person that becomes grouchy if I don’t get 7 hours of sleep or more. Also, my psychologist has mentioned that I have minor depression, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with my new sleep cycle.

  10. I never knew other people had this issue for lack of a better term. I have since a teenage had long sleeps as they are called here. NOw that I am no longer a working parent (ie retired), I find that I cannot keep up with my peers who do many things in a day, as I don’t wake up until 12-15 hours after going to bed and they have already played tennis, shopped met friends etc.

    I do suffer from depression but believe that part of my depression is because of my long sleeps stopping me from enjoying life.

    Would it be a good idea to take ADHD meds or modafinil type meds?

  11. I have this condition, and so unlike my peers (in their 60’s), I do not accomplish a great deal in my waking time, party because this waking time is so brief. Would it be a good idea to take ADHD meds or modanifil?

  12. Hi Paula, you first need to find the root cause of your sleep . Is it pathological or just a natural part of you? For that you will have to go for a sleep study test where they will analyse your sleep pattern, such a test should be most useful. Then depending on the outcome of the test you can take things forward.

  13. I am so glad I found this. I have always needed 10 hours sleep which makes it very hard to love with other people or have a social life outside work. People laugh at you, call you lazy or just don’t believe you and think you just need to force your body to get used to 7 or 8 hours sleep. It would be great for it to be classified as some sort of mild disability (such as dyslexia) so that you had grounds for asking for slightly altered hours at work like later start/finish time (or just so it was socially unacceptable for people to be derogatory). I also have very vivid dreams- I wonder if proportionally more REM sleep is the cause of this syndrome.

    1. Hi Jlmars,
      I totally relate and agree with you about this sleep pattern being classified as a disability. I wonder if there is anyway to advocate for this to be labeled a disability so those of us that genuinely need 10+ hours can be accommodated. I also am called lazy, and am expected to get up at “a reasonable time” by people who just don’t get it. After reading a lot of these comments, it appears most of us have similar symptoms. I would bet more than 2% of the population has this. I know several others just like me. I also do not believe it is caused by depression, although depression might cause someone to want to sleep more.

      I also wonder if more REM sleep can cause this. Are vivid dreamers more likely to require more sleep overall? If I wake up with under 10 hours I experience what seems to be extreme sleep inertia. I have the most incredibly complex and vivid dreams that I can remember for several years (some I will never forget). I revisit dreams again and again and sometimes if I wake up during one I can go right back into the dream where it left off. Sometimes I can completely manipulate my dreams, change the course, and add story lines. I set multiple alarms, but I can never remember snoozing my them (but they get snoozed).

  14. On one night this week, I did not sleep at all. This is because I am being weaned off a drug for Restless Legs Syndrome that caused my symptoms to get much worse (called Augmentation).

    The following night, I took my regular dose of this drug which has a sleep-inducing effect on my body. I did not set my alarm. I remember getting up a couple times to go to the bathroom, and I woke up around 8 a.m. but went back to sleep and slept until 10 a.m. My best friend feels this is not natural. Does anyone know the facts about whether this ability to sleep 14 hours (after having 0 hours of sleep the night before) is a blessing or not a good thing. I know that I felt refreshed, like I had made up for the night of sleep I had missed.

  15. I’m wondering about REM as well. Because i also have at least 2 vivid complex dreams every night. And the last 2-3 months i have noticed that i sleep longer than i use to, average 10 hours per night. I retired about a year ago, so maybe i am just bored in general, or maybe its a symptom of something else.

  16. I think this is what I suffer from. I’ve always slept for extremely long periods of time, for as long as I can remember at least. I started having sleep paralysis episodes in my early teens, and then EDS. It’s been so bad that I’ve had trouble holding down jobs (sleeping through alarms, etc.). And I’m not rich so I sorta ‘exist’ rather than ‘live’. Most of my life I’ve thought that I just have a bad case of narcolepsy type 2, and that I just sleep more than people with narcolepsy ..since I get so sleepy while I should be awake that I’ve fallen asleep driving before.
    Dealing with doctors has been an absolute nightmare as well. They almost always treat me like I’m just after stimulants. I was finally able to afford a sleep study (polysomnogram and MLST) and it was inconclusive. They found ‘issues’, but wanted another study. I can’t afford to though. I finally found a doctor that put me on Provigil for the time being. It helps a lot, but I’ve been thinking about asking him to increase my dosage.
    Do any of you guys take meds for this sleep disorder?

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