Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Sleep Disorders

Why am I Sleeping 16 Hours a Day?

01/25/2010

Question:

Hi there im a 20 years old and I work as a care assistent for a residential home. I do 12 hour shifts which are 3 days on 3 days off. Just recently on my 3 days off I`ve been sleeping for 16 hours without waking up once and I was just wondering if there was something wrong with me?

Answer:

Sleeping for 16 hours at a time suggests that you prolonged sleep episodes, which tends to indicate excessive sleepiness. While we can’t provide you with a diagnosis in the absence of additional history and an examination, we can provide you with some information regarding his problems. Excessive sleepiness is quite a common condition in modern society and has a number of potential underlying causes, all of which can be treated with some degree of success. You should note that needing 16 hours of sleep is not normal.

There are several potential causes for prolonged sleep and excessive sleepiness. Probably the most common cause is simply insufficient sleep. Most individuals need an average of 7-9 hours per night of sleep to feel rested. If you are not getting this regularly you may be creating a sleep debt. This leads to excessive sleepiness. Unfortunately a couple of nights of prolonged sleep can not compensate for chronic sleep deprivation. Primary sleep disorders need to also be considered and some of the more common ones that might cause sleepiness include obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnolence, periodic limb movements in sleep and a delayed sleep phase (usually resulting in inadequate sleep time). Shift work is also a risk factor for sleepiness, especially if you are working nights. Other potential causes of daytime sleepiness include chronic medical problems, psychiatric problems, and medications.

If you are getting the appropriate amount of sleep on the days you typically work and are not working an overnight shift, then I recommend that you discuss your symptoms with your physician. To determine the cause of your problems, a thorough history and physical examination will be needed. A referral to a Sleep Specialist may be necessary to help sort out whether further testing is needed. Once a history and physical examination have been performed, the Sleep Specialist will decide if evaluation by a sleep study is necessary to further evaluate the cause. Best of Luck!

Related Resources:

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

For more information:

Go to the Sleep Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Aneesa M Das, MD Aneesa M Das, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University