Sleep Addiction Is Only Real In Your Dreams

Sleep Addiction Is Only Real In Your Dreams

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Sleep Addiction Is Only Real In Your Dreams

This post was originally published on February 17, 2016.

It always annoys me when people say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” Really? That’s unfortunate because you don’t know what happens when you die and there’s a chance you’ll no longer have the awareness to know how awesome sleep is when you’re dead and gone. As for me, well, I don’t nap that much during the week but I do love a good snooze on the weekends post-shower. And I definitely need a full eight hours each night to feel normal. Sleep, to me, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But like any pleasure, can it be overdone? According to a recent piece for Motherboard, the answer is kinda, sorta, maybe but not really.

Dreamers Anonymous?

The short answer is no, technically sleep addiction isn’t really a thing, though people certainly can and do binge on it. The author of the story consulted Dr. Neil Kline from the American Sleep Association who said that because sleep is a biological need, a person can’t be addicted to it. “To say that someone is addicted to sleep is like saying that one is addicted to breathing” was a quote. Hold up, Dr. Kline, breathing is kind of involuntary so I call BS on your comparison. What are you, a medical professional? Oh wait…

Alright, so sleep’s a necessity and not an addictive tendency.

I’m with the author though; I don’t put any addiction to anything past anyone. As she points out, people are addicted to food and sex and they’re both biological necessities, too! Even if an addiction is non-chemical in nature (though there are certain chemicals amped down in humans while they’re asleep and amped up while they’re awake), it still could be negatively impacting the quality of someone’s life. If the need to sleep is making other areas of someone’s life unmanageable, it’s clearly a problem.

Need to Sleep Versus The Need to Check Out

Alas, I think for the most part, the constant desire to hit that REM cycle is more the symptom than the cause. I’d imagine part of why it’s so difficult to diagnose something as “sleep addiction” is that excessive Zzzzz’s catching could be indicative of a number of things. A person could be suffering from depression; a physical reliance on sleeping pills or other drugs that cause drowsiness; extreme grief; extreme anxiety or even thyroid problems, just to name a few.

Additionally, generalized fatigue could have so many causes. Or just straight-up exhaustion. Who hasn’t gone through periods when they feel tired all the time? I definitely have times when I’m not necessarily depressed or even physically tired but I find myself showered and ready for the day yet wishing I could curl back under the covers.

Also, what about good old fashioned narcolepsy? The author of the Motherboard story doesn’t really explore that possibility. Is being a narco the unofficial term for being a sleep addict? They keep sleeping, even though they want to be awake? Can’t stop, won’t stop, sleeping? Not necessarily. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Contrary to common beliefs, people with narcolepsy do not spend a substantially greater proportion of their time asleep during a 24-hour period than do normal sleepers.” So it’s not about how much they sleep but about the lack of quality of it and the sudden bouts of it at unexpected times like school or a party. (To be fair to them, I’ve been to some pretty boring-ass parties I should have slept through.)

Find Another Vice, or Life

The real question people should ask is: do you really love sleep that much or do you really hate your waking life that much? Sleep has a job. It recharges your bod and keeps your brain functioning. And the right amount is supposed to be good for your skin (so I’m told, though that is yet to be proven the case in my life). But truth be told, sleep doesn’t need that much of your attention. If you’d rather snooze than do anything else, maybe the “anything else” in your life needs a serious shake up.

I still stand by my post-bathing towel nap as a guilty weekend pleasure. Maybe even Saturday and Sunday if I’m really getting crazy.

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  1. My name is Andy S.
    Eight years ago, in a desperate effort to put my out-of-control napping and waking up late in remission, I started a 12-step called Sleepers Anonymous. I was also a compulsive overeater and came to OA and talked constantly about my sleeping. People were angry at me because they didn’t understand. One day, this OA guy who was also in AA offerred to sponsor me in both programs and I was able not to nap for 3.5 years until I stopped working the steps and relapsed for 4 years.
    But before I relapsed, I had this dream that one day, I’d start this fellowship and help tens of thousands of men and women just like OA did for others. One day, an OA friend of mine called me and said, “Andy, I need help. I’m falling asleep at the wheel on the way home from meetings.” That’s the day I knew for sure that it was my duty to do so. I sponsored him for a while, but for various reasons, he eventually went through the steps with my original sponsor. This fellow, has sponsored more Sleepers than anyone I know.
    One of the ones he sponsored was my current sponsor. This past Wednesday August 29, 2016, was my One-year-anniversary in SleepA. On that day, I received my best gift. This guy contacted me through an article in the following link
    http://www.addictionpro.com/article/12-step-community-abnormal-sleep-will-launch-los-angeles
    I started sponsoring him the next day and he’s already recovering.
    I started to become an early riser as a result of the program.
    My question is how do I tell the world that Undersleeping or oversleeping is an addiction when nobody except for the writer of that article Gary Enos believes us?
    How can I explain to the professional, but much more importantly to the sufferer, that sleeping in in the morning is totally addicting because when I was doing it it was to escape life and my miseries, and that I would do anything, suffer the ridicule of others, be afraid of threats from authority figures, miss expensive appointments and get fired from jobs, just for that, “One more minute…I promise”?
    How do I convey to folks that compulsive napping is a real thing and is an obsession just like getting drunk is to the real alcoholic? That the feeling in the mind and body that tells the napper that unless they take a nap something terrible is going to happen, and that this is so real that the person must do it to escape that mental and physical pain?
    And how do I explain the horrible dysphoric feeling that comes after, not before, sleeping in or napping?
    Especially I don’t know how to explain first hand but from anecdotal experience, that fellows like my sponsor were addicted to insomnia and got 4 hours of sleep every night no matter what they tried? And now he sleeps like a baby.
    How do i spread our message of hope to the 20,000,000 insomniacs in the U.S. alone, to the numerous nappers, and to all those who suffer from sleeping in?
    And how do I get more support from more addiction magazines that will believe us when we say that the twelve steps of Sleepers Anonymous work just as well as AA works for real alcoholics?
    Please tell me.
    Yours truly,
    Andy S. Co-founder of SleepA and Sleeper number one

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About Author

Mary Patterson Broome is the Editor-in-Chief of RehabReviews.com and After Party Magazine and has also written for Women's Health Magazine Online, AOL and WE TV. She has been performing stand-up comedy at clubs, colleges, casinos and festivals across the country and internationally for over a decade. Originally from southern Alabama, she now calls Los Angeles home.