Why Do Some People Need More Sleep than Others?

Why Do Some People Need More Sleep than Others?

Sleep is one of the most important and poorly understood of the body's natural processes. While the body rests and the person enjoys dreams, the brain is still very active. It removes built up toxins, repairs cellular damage, increases reserves of energy supplies, and even creates long-term memories. For some people, this process takes a little longer than for others.

How Long Should People be Sleeping?

The amount of sleep you need varies depending factors like age, lifestyle, health, and genetics. In general, the very young will sleep most of the day. As people age they tend to need less and less nightly rest. According to the American Sleep Foundation, newborns can snooze 14-17 hours a day. That typical range drops to 9-11 hours for school aged children, 7-9 hours for most adults, and 7-8 hours for people 65 years and older. However, some people fall outside of these average ranges.

So Why Do Some People Need More Sleep than Others?

The most common reasons include poor quality of sleep, health issues, genetic factors, and rare disorders.

Sleep Quality

Nine hours of sleep won't be very refreshing if it's constantly disrupted. People who live in an apartment with thin walls may be woken up many times a night by passing police sirens, noisy neighbors, the elevator ringing, and a thousand other distractions. The brain may try to compensate by extending the rest period.

Health Issues

Long sleep cycles, especially in people who usually sleep less, are one of the symptoms of depression. Anxiety may also have a role here, as people struggle with upsetting thoughts when they lie down. It may take them a long time to fall asleep, and so they require more. Physical problems such as sleep apnea may increase sleep cycles. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which people's breathing becomes blocked during sleep. It's often seen in people who are overweight or have enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Sleep apnea leads to lower blood oxygen and long, fitful sleep cycles.

Genetic Factors

Sleep cycles seem to have a genetic component. For instance, certain people with a specific genetic mutation can function perfectly fine on as little as four hours of sleep a day. Other people may come from families where everyone needs ten hours of sleep a night. In those cases, doctors suspect a genetic influence even if they haven't yet isolated which gene is causing this long sleep pattern.

Long Sleeping Disorder

Finally, some people have a specific disorder that causes them to require ten to twelve hours of rest a night. The American Sleep Association calls this Long Sleeping Disorder. People with Long Sleeping Disorder experience what appears to be deep and uninterrupted sleep, but they may show signs of sleep deprivation throughout the day. This disorder interferes with daily life. Some people affected with it take on less to allow themselves to sleep up to half the day away. Others stick to a more typical 8 hour sleeping schedule and are chronically sleep deprived, having marathon 15 hour snorefests on the weekend to catch up.

Maximize Your Nightly Sleep

Whether you snooze for six hours or ten, you deserve a deep night's sleep that leaves you feeling alert and full of energy the next day. Some of the best ways to maximize the time you do have for sleeping include going to bed at a regular time each night, sleeping in a cool, dark room, and resting on a comfortable quality mattress.  memory foam mattresses hug your body's natural curves, supporting you as you drift off to sleep.

Updated: 09/13/2019