The Desire to Sleep A Lot May Reveal Feelings of Loneliness, Anxiousness, and/or Depression

          

            We have all had those days where we want nothing more than to lay in bed all day and attempt to sleep our troubles away. I personally struggle with depression, anxiety and loneliness. Some days are better than others, some days I am happy and content, and others I have to force myself out of bed. And some days I just want to sleep. A lot. But what does the desire to sleep a lot mean? And what does this desire have to do with feelings of loneliness, anxiousness and/or depression?

Many studies suggest that some people who suffer from depression will often lie in bed from lack of motivation. Most people feel that their bed is a safe place (not to mention comfortable). I can personally attest to this; whenever I am overwhelmed or having a down day, my first instinct is to climb under my covers and nap. The desire to oversleep usually comes from:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • loneliness
  • coping mechanism(s)

Many people with depression sleep to escape from reality; they use sleep as a way to “cope”, although hiding isn’t exactly coping.

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            The behavior of oversleeping (whether during the night or collectively with naps during the day) is also present in people who suffer from anxiety. There are some cases of this behavior manifesting into sleep/wake disorders in people who suffer from anxiety. A study conducted on hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness), assessed that people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) “…are twice more likely to report getting too much sleep” (Ohayon, 2008), either by oversleeping or taking naps during the day. This study was conducted using surveys and interviews. For the most part, these are two reliable methods; however, since research on hypersomnia is limited there may be some inconsistencies. In this case the researchers are experts in their field. The researchers also took other disorders and symptoms that may cause hypersomnia or may have a correlation into consideration.

table

Figure1. Distribution of subjects sleeping too much by nighttime and 24-hours sleep duration
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2362500/)

            The terms lethargic and fatigued often come into play when discussing depression, anxiety and loneliness. When a person is lethargic, they have a lack of energy and/or interest; similarly, when a person is fatigued they feel weary or tired. In their paper Loneliness Matters: A Theoretical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms, Louise C. Hawkley, Ph.D. and John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D state that loneliness negatively affects the quality of sleep an individual receives. This would explain why people who suffer from loneliness also have a desire to sleep a lot. Hawkley and Cacioppo studied loneliness and its effects through observation, which in my opinion, is one of the most reliable ways to conduct research because it focuses more on determining the relation between causation and correlation.

            In conclusion, the desire to sleep a lot may reveal feelings of loneliness, anxiousness, and/or depression because all of those emotions are symptomatic of feeling tired, whether emotionally or physically. It is almost as if we are trying to build an emotional blanket fort to transport us back to childhood where we were under the pretense that no one could harm us under our covers. How many of you sleep a lot? Do you find yourselves napping as a way to cope?

 

Sources:
Ohayon, M. (2008). From wakefulness to excessive sleepiness: What we know and still need to know. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 12(2), 129-141.

Hawkley, L., & Cacioppo, J. (2010). Loneliness Matters: A Theoretical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 40(2), 218-227.

 

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  1. I suffer from depression and anxiety. I sleep to avoid dealing with it. I don’t know why, I just do. It’s counterproductive in my opinion. It helps for the time I’m asleep but once I wake up I feel the same as I did before I went to sleep.

  2. Sometimes I arrange my blankets and pillows a certain way so it feels like someone is in bed with me.

  3. I have been sleeping to cope all my life. As a teen I would skip school and sleep all day. I wanted to forget the world around me. Now at 37 with 3 children and a husband I find myself extremely tired and unable to focus under stress. I want to crawl in bed and sleep it away. That’s next to impossible with a family. I don’t know what to do with the negative energy.

  4. I will very often sleep 12-16 hours straight if uninterrupted. I am naturally shy/introverted and I know sleeping is my way of hiding from the world and not dealing with reality. I’ll wake up over and over again after the 8-9 hour mark but will ask myself, “What’s the point of getting up? There’s nothing worth getting up for.” and then I burrow back in the covers and fall asleep effortlessly. I have the best dreams in this period of sleep. They’re very vivid and often mirror what I want to happen in reality. I feel that I often control my dreams and the outcome rarely slips away from me and I wonder if this comes from spending so much time in the dream world; it feels peaceful.

    I sometimes worry that I’m not living a full life but often don’t feel like I’m missing much, as the world seems like a pretty cruel and chaotic place. I feel like I function in the world okay when I have responsibilities and appointments. I don’t skip appointments or plans. I even stay up for days on end sometimes when I have work plus projects for my architectural classes. So, I suppose as long as I’m still functioning healthily then all is well.

    I do sometimes wish I wanted less sleep. I feel like I would experience so much more of life and people and the world.

  5. I over-think a lot. I consider myself very intellectual. Over-thinking unnecessarily has been affecting me a lot. I tend to sleep a lot. I have become very lethargic.

  6. I feel so lonely my partner left me because of over possessiveness and the guilt of doing bad in my life is having a negative impact on me I want to be alone all day and don’t want to do anything just to lie on bed and avoid everything.

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