What sleep disorder causes you to sleep too much?

This question was asked in Georgetown, Kentucky on 01/25/2013.
My husband sleeps all the time, he has a low testosterone level but takes medication for it. Since I’ve known him he works his 12 hour shift then comes home and sleeps for 24 to 30 hours straight until I make him get up and take his medicine and eat. He’s 55 years old, and 265 lbs, and he’s 5ft 6inches tall. I don’t know what to do to help him because he gets agitated if I attempt to make him stay awake other than going to work. Please help me understand this.

Doctors Answers (5)

Jana P. Kaimal, MD, FCCP
Answered on: 4/5/2013 7

The disorder you are inquiring about is referred to as hypersomnia. It causes people to suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day, which is not usually relieved by napping. Sufferers also sleep for unusually long periods of time at night. Many with hypersomnia experience symptoms of anxiety, low energy and memory problems, resulting from their almost constant need for sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder causing people to stop breathing momentarily during sleep, can also lead to an increased need for sleep. That's because it disrupts the normal sleep cycle. Not everyone who oversleeps has a sleep disorder though so it is important to discuss your concerns with a sleep specialist.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 2/5/2013 3

The cause for excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) ranges from medication effect to narcolepsy. In between, there are numerous causes such as sleep apnea and restless legs. Basically, anything that disrupts sleep stages (not necessarily awakenings but "arousals" of the brain waves) can result in daytime sleepiness. Obviously, not getting enough sleep (sleep deprivation) can result in EDS. Low testosterone and obesity are commonly associated with sleep apnea and should be excluded as a cause. Life is too short to have the poor quality of life your husband experiences. He should see a sleep specialist pronto.

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 2/5/2013 3

Thank you for your question. Many sleep disorders cause daytime sleepiness and non-restful sleep. This in turn causes a person to need more rest, however without treatment the person is not rested. The symptoms you are describing indicate a sleep disorder. By the height and weight, it seems that he would be a candidate for sleep apnea. We suggest scheduling and initial consultation with Dr. Gibson by calling us at your earliest convenience.

Courtney Whitney, DO
Answered on: 1/29/2013

There are a number of sleep disorders that make people sleep too much. The most common disorder is Obstructive sleep apnea. Others to consider are Narcolepsy and Idiopathic hypersomnia. Try to encourage him to have an evaluation; it is likely to be life changing. If he is reluctant, see if he would allow his O2 levels to monitored in his home while sleeping. If they are normal you can essentially rule out OSA.

Jeannine Louise Gingras, MD
Answered on: 1/28/2013

There are many reasons for sleeping too much. What would be most beneficial for your husband is to be evaluated by a sleep physician who would take a complete medical and sleep history, perform a physical exam. Depending on the findings sleep testing may be ordered to determine the cause of his excessive sleepiness.