Is Sleeping Too Much a Sign of Depression?

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is sleeping too much a sign of depression

Depressive people usually complain of insomnia. But in some depressive people sleeping too much is the problem. According to a Study, Only 15% of people dealing with depression have a tendency of sleeping too much. This is the reason many times depression is such people can go unidentified.

Sometimes we meet people or know someone who claims that they love your sleep. There can be a high chance that their love for sleep may have an underlying cause. Oversleeping once in a while or on holidays is perfectly fine. But sleeping more than the required amount of time every day calls for attention.

Did you know some people sleep for 20 hours a day? Can you believe it! If you can then I’m sure you know someone who is struggling to barely stay awake. The worst of it all is that it’s often confused with laziness.

Imagine someone who is already dealing with depression, for the little time they are awake they get to hear about how lazy they are. Hurtful right?  Are you wondering what kind of depression it is? Let me tell you…

Atypical Depression

Depression is not just about melancholy feelings. There is so much more to it and can be divided into many types. One of which is Atypical Depression. Atypical depression, as the name suggests is depression with atypical features.

It is also known as major depression with atypical features. Its symptoms vary quite a bit from the traditional symptoms of depression. The most prominent symptoms of atypical depression is instant improvement in mood caused by a positive event and sleeping way more than normal. Though the mood doesn’t remain elevated for a long period of time.

Also read: Atypical Depression: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Does this sound familiar now? Although it sounds alien but is very commonly diagnosed.

Let’s look at some symptoms of atypical depression…

  • Temporary mood lifts
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased weight
  • Hypersomnia/ sleeping too much
  • Heaviness in limbs
  • Sensitivity to rejection or criticism

Sometimes the symptoms can be so severe that you can’t even carry out your day-to-day work.

Are you wondering how and why someone could sleep amidst those negative thoughts and depression? Read along to find out…

Reasons Why Someone in Depression May Sleep a Lot

1. Feel safe

Depression can really mess you up. There is a constant fear of so many things together. There is so much on your mind all the time. These thoughts are so loud that you wish they could stop right away. You become vulnerable and everything seems so overwhelming.

Sleeping is the only time you feel safe. When you sleep you can put everything at hold. You intentionally want to go into an unconscious state of mind.

2. Dilemma of not wanting to live or die

Depressive people often lose interest in their lives. They fail to find any meaning or purpose to their lives. There are times when they feel like dying but can’t find courage. Sometimes they want to live but can’t find any reason.

Many face this dilemma and find comfort in sleeping. The constant tug of war between wanting to die and live exhausts them. Sleeping is the ‘in between’ of not wanting to live but not wanting to die.

3. Stops from reliving trauma

When in depression we do not wish to recall or relive those memories that have put you in this position to begin with. We want to forget them and try to move on. But somehow they just keep coming back.

Sleeping is one way through which those memories and trauma can be paused. Depressed people may resort to sleeping in order to avoid reliving trauma.

4. Exhaustion

Depression tends to draw out all the energy. It drains you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. There is constant fatigue in your body.  Depression tricks your brain to believe that you are tired and you need rest.

5. Life’s not less than a nightmare

When life’s a nightmare, trust me dreams are just entertainment. Your life is tangled up in so many emotions and feelings. Waking up in the morning feels like a task.

Your bed becomes your comfort zone and the thought of leaving it is terrifying. When you begin to dread your life, sleep is one thing you may try to hold on to.

6. Break from suffering

A depressed person has to suffer a lot. And the want to end the suffering is common in all kinds of mental and physical issues. Sleep tends to provide temporary relief and gives them a break from suffering.

I always go to sleep whenever I’m upset. And I honestly didn’t even know why I did that. But now I know, to take a break from my pain.

7. Want to think or feel nothing

Depression has complete control over your thoughts and feelings. These thoughts and feelings keep pestering you all day. All you want is for them to stop. You don’t want to think or feeling anything and sleeping gives you just that.

When depression sets in, sleeping can be a healthy coping strategy. But anything in excess is bad, sleeping way too much is not going to ease your pain. Having said that, I know it’s not your fault and neither can you control it.

These reasons push you towards avoiding the severity of your condition. You can try consulting a doctor. If that’s too big a step, try talking to a friend or a confidant.

How to Break the Vicious Cycle of Oversleeping to Avoid Feeling Depressed?

Well, seeing a therapist will always be my first suggestion. But I know it’s easier said than done. So, here are a few tiny changes that you can make to avoid oversleeping. Baby steps, take one day at a time.

1. Through the snooze button away

Try to keep your hands off the snooze button. Use alarm clocks with no snooze buttons. Or you can just place them far away from you so that even to snooze it you have to wake up.

2. Put a warning alarm

Set 2 or 3 (however many you want) warning alarms before your actual wake time. It can be in equal intervals of 30, 15, 10 minutes. This helps you prepare yourself to wake up. I use this trick a lot.

3. Make way for light

Lights are something that immediately signals your brain to wake up. You can pull the curtains before you sleep so that as soon as the sun rises your room lights up. You can even ask your family or friends to turn on soft lights in the room 10- 15 minutes before your wake time. I often ask my husband to turn on the fairy lights and soft music.

4. Stay consistent

Consistency is the key. You must stay consistent by not oversleeping, even on weekends. I know that’s not what you wanted to hear. But don’t let your body feel comfort in oversleeping again. So, follow your sleep schedule religiously with no cheat days.

Final words

We are all in the same war fighting different demons. Something that is easily accessible can be heavily desired by someone else. It’s hard to imagine that depression can make you oversleep too.

It’s true that oversleeping can be caused by depression however, oversleeping alone cannot cause depression. Oversleeping in depressive patients comes from the idea of trying to find an escape.

I hope this article was helpful enough to understand the reasons why someone in depression may sleep a lot. Remember, you’re not alone!

We are always there to help. Take care! Stay safe!

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