When someone's fighting depression, then it's extremely common for them to "oversleep" - or in other words, for them to sleep much more than someone who isn't fighting depression. Sometimes, this can make those with depression feel ashamed of themselves - and, what can significantly exacerbate this shame is when other people label them as "lazy" for sleeping so much.
However, the reason people with depression commonly sleep a lot is not because they're lazy!
The Real Reasons People With Depression May Sleep A Lot (That Are Not Due To Laziness)
As opposed to being due to laziness, there are several reasons why people with depression may sleep a lot more than people who don't have depression. In particular, these include:
- Like we often talk about at The Depression Project, depression is very often associated with deep feelings of exhaustion (which we label "depression exhaustion", "depression tiredness" or "depression fatigue"). As we explain in this blog post, "depression tiredness" is very, very different from "normal tiredness" - and it's a major reason why it's extremely common for people fighting depression to sleep significantly more than they would if they weren't fighting depression, and significantly more than other people who aren't fighting depression. Additionally, like countless people with depression have told us over the years, "depression tiredness" can be so completely, utterly and debilitatingly consuming that it can make the mere act of getting out of bed feel like climbing a mountain - and when this is the case, it also explains why people with depression can be overly prone to staying in bed and sleeping.
- Like we also often talk about at The Depression Project, in addition to "depression tiredness", lack of motivation is also closely associated with depression - which, like countless people with depression have also told us, can make it feel as if there's no point in getting out of bed and doing anything but sleeping.
- Additionally, when you're battling depression and are consumed with negative thoughts like "I'm a failure", "I'm a burden", "I'm unlovable", and "I'm not enough" for example as well as painful emotions such as feelings of misery, worthlessness and hopelessness for example, then life can feel like a nightmare that you want to escape from. And, when this is the case, then sleep can give those fighting depression a much-needed break from their suffering. Or, to put it another way, for many people fighting depression, sleep can be the only time when they feel safe, and a middle ground between not wanting to live but not wanting to die.
If you can relate, our friend, then please know that you are not alone, and that given everything you're going through when you're fighting depression, "oversleeping" is completely understandable.
On the other hand, if you don't have depression yourself but you know someone who does who is sleeping a lot more than you would otherwise expect them too, then rather than criticising them for this and calling them lazy, please:
- Remind yourself that they are going through a lot;
- Do your best to offer them support and compassion.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.