Sleeping too much

November 12, 2008 9:30:45 PM PST
Melissa Moshella is one of one in 10-thousand. When her doctor told her that, she knew it was not a good thing.

"For as long as I can remember I have always been abnormally tired. Sleepy all the time," Moshella said.

She's only 23. She was so sleepy all the time, eventually driving became dangerous.

Moshella really needed to figure out what was going on, so she went to the Institute of Sleep Medicine for help. She came in one night at 8:00 and they monitored her sleep.

"I went to sleep just went to sleep," Moshella said.

It didn't take long. Dr. Thomas Kilkenny diagnosed Melissa with narcolepsy, which explained why she could sleep for hours and still be exhausted all day.

Narcolepsy is just one cause for what is called hypersomnia, oversleeping or sleeping too much.

"There's a whole host of different problems that could potentially cause it. Certain chronic illness, kidney disease, heart disease, depression, all could cause a person to want to sleep longer than you would think would be normal," Dr. Kilkenny said.

At the Institute of Sleep Medicine on Staten Island, Dr. Kilkenny sees it all.

He and his team track sleep patterns, collect the data on computers and help patients who have sleep problems.

There are three categories of oversleepers.

First, and the easiest to fix, those who stay up too late too often and just don't get the proper amount of sleep.

Then there are those who suffer from interrupted sleep -- could be a restless limb that twitches, or mini choking episodes known as apnea.

Finally, the toughest to deal with is when the problem is genetic.

In Melissa's case, her problem was identified. Dr. Kilkenny prescribed certain medications and it is working.

"Now I lead a normal life. I can do anything without having to worry about falling asleep," she said.

Dr. Kilkenny says there are a whole list of factors that could cause oversleeping.

To learn more, visit the Institute for Sleep Medicine on the web at