College Students and Sleep Part 6
Sleeping too much.
Sleeping too much may actually be a symptom of depression. At least one in five people suffer from depression at some point in their life. Depression and anxiety often go together as stress increases. Being away from home, having to make new friends, working hard in school, discovering intimate relationships, and worrying about grades are all stressful. Add financial instability, having to work a job, family situations, health problems, family history, and it becomes a set up for mood disorders.
Depression reduces sleep quality. Some college students experience insomnia while others sleep too much due to fatigue from decreased sleep quality. The neurotransmitters within the brain don't recover the way they should with sleep because they are imbalanced when a person is sad for an extended period of time.
College students may not understand their own feelings sometimes. A lack of motivation in school may be due to not liking their major or not liking life in general. While it's normal to feel poorly after a break up or poor performance, the student should feel better in a few weeks. It's when they don't feel better for more than a few weeks and start to spiral downwards that depression starts. The sooner they seek help to sort out what is going on, the sooner they will feel better.
Occasionally, sleeping too much is due to a medical condition like mono, thyroid disease, or anemia. Rarely, it's something more serious. The most common medical reason for sleeping too much is a mood problem like dysthymia, a mild form of depression. The Student Health Center at Penn State will have a small pilot study in which all of one doctor's patients will all be screened for depression at every visit. Suicide is the third most common cause of death in adolescents and young adults, so we are very aware of the risks of depression. College students who sleep too much, sleep more than usual, or just feel tired all of the time need to seek medical or psychological care.