Mental Health Recovery and Oversleeping

February 20, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

In my last article, I talked about insomnia and the impact it can have on mental health. I talked about the importance of sleep in our recovery. It can spur feelings that we might be inching close to relapse. Often, insomnia is just insomnia. But oversleeping is different. A lot different. Night and day different--Pardon the horrible pun!

Why Does Mental Illness Cause Sleep Disturbance?

There are many reasons, but let's focus on a few:

>Medication can disturb sleep immensely. And most of us have experienced this, particularly when we are first diagnosed or try a new medication. The most common medications, often considered the most effective, cause a feeling of exhaustion, sluggishness.

I recall the first time I was given a major mood stabilizer. An hour after taking it my eyes slowly closed and I found my way to bed. I woke up when it was dark; the rest of the house sleeping, relishing in their normal sleeping patterns, and fell, blissfully, back asleep. Things continued in this fashion for a few weeks, often months, but slowly my body became mine again. It adjusted to the medication.

But it's not always a simple, exhausting, waiting game---sometimes the medication is just not the right medication and your back at square one---trying something else.

Psychiatric medication is not the only reason mental illness can cause case us to sleep to much.

>Depression. I hate that word. You hate it too. Depression negatively affects our sleping pattern. The math on this one is pretty simple: when your world becomes black, your body slows down in response, and your mind does the same. When you are depressed, well, you would rather be asleep. The world has little to offer you when you feel low and sleeping more is the natural reaction--This is largely based on low serotonin levels. Medication works to balance these levels but until it works, until you work with them and find success, sleeping seems like the perfect reprieve.

>If you are experiencing a high level of stress, if your mental health is affected by this, you might rather hide in bed than face the world. Stress can cause depression and it can become a nasty, unrelenting cycle, but it won't last forever. It just feels like it will.

How Can We Differentiate a 'Normal' Sleep Disturbance From One Indicating Relapse?

This question does not have a definitive answer, rather, a few variables:

>If you are sleeping too much on a regular basis, extending past a few day's, perhaps a week, check in with your psychiatrist. Life is exhausting and all of us sleep more from time to time but it's important to rule out symptoms of relapse. The sooner you catch it, the faster you can make sure you stay on track.

>If you find that you are sleeping eight hours a night, or whatever is 'normal' for you, but falling asleep in the middle of the day, evaluate the situation.

> Ask those around you, the people closest to you, if they have noticed any change in your mood. Yes, I know, it's really irritating having to do this for any of us, but ask yourself: if you loved someone and noticed they were struggling, would you tell them? Of course you would. Let people in to your life.

Final Thoughts? We all struggle, at some point in our journey to mental health recovery, with sleep issues. I can only touch on a few but share your own experience; more often than not sharing our experience makes us feel less alone in our struggle.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, February 20). Mental Health Recovery and Oversleeping, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Maria Gabriela Sousa
March, 18 2016 at 1:26 pm

I can relate very well to this article, however something that isn't mentioned is that with my depression and excessive sleeping i was also was diagnosed with Sever Sleep Apnea and my Thyroid was under active and needed to be regulated. Diagnosed or not i would suggest a complete blood panel and a Sleep Test when possible as part as your recovery.

Natasha Tracy
February, 20 2012 at 7:51 am

Quick note, recent research has actually shown that one (or possibly more) of the genes responsible for circadian rhythm are likely mutated in bipolar disorder and that is what explains a lot of the innate sleeping problems (and even mood problems).
- Natasha

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