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Short sleepers and long sleepers

Filed in
  • Insomnia
  • hypersomnias
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleep apnea

Corinne Lederhouse  |  Apr 10, 2017
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It’s not uncommon to meet an adult who sleeps less than six hours a night, but it is uncommon to meet one who feels rested after six hours of sleep or less. Contrary to popular belief, there is a small percentage of adults who don’t require the recommended seven hours of sleep each night. Someone like this is called a short sleeper, and they function well during the day even after sleeping less than six hours a night.

A short sleeper doesn’t restrict their amount of sleep like most others. This is not the same as your college friend who slept three hours a night in preparation for finals. It’s also different from most adults who are forced to cut sleeping short in order to wake up for work or balance other responsibilities.

Instead, a short sleeper’s (short) duration of sleep is consistent, even on weekends, and this doesn’t have a negative effect on them. This is not the same as insomnia, which occurs when a person has trouble falling or staying asleep. While a short sleeper’s friends and family might think they need more sleep, this is incorrect.

If a person constantly gets less sleep than is needed, they will suffer from insufficient sleep syndrome. The most common symptom is daytime sleepiness. A short sleeper will not experience this. Their quality of sleep will be good and they won’t need to take naps or “catch up” on sleep over the weekend.

Research is still being done on the topic, but it’s possible that short sleepers have a gene mutation allowing them to function well on six hours or less of sleep each night.

On the flipside, there are people who require more than seven hours of sleep each night to function well. A long sleeper will sleep much longer than others their age. Adult long sleepers will typically sleep for 10 to 12 hours a night. Their sleep quality is good and they don’t have any complaints. Long sleeping is consistent and not a result of a medication or a mental health condition.

While you may think that your teenager is staying in bed too long, this differs from the stable sleep pattern of a long sleeper. Many teens tend to restrict their sleep during the week and then binge sleep on the weekends. In contrast, long sleepers are not oversleeping as a result of a late night or irregular sleep pattern. Often their extensive need for sleep starts during childhood. There is nothing wrong with long sleepers; they just need more sleep than is normally required for most people.

During the week, a long sleeper usually needs to sleep less in order to perform daily tasks like going to a job or school. If they don’t get enough sleep, they will feel tired. This can negatively impact relationships and job performance. They may function alright on nine hours of sleep on the weeknights, and sleep between 12 and 15 hours on the weekends to make up for it.

It’s important to distinguish short and long sleep from a sleep disorder. Many sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy can involve daytime sleepiness. Other sleep disorders such as idiopathic hypersomnia can involve long periods of sleep. A long sleep duration also can be caused by other medical problems.

Talk to your doctor if you have a consistent sleep pattern but rarely feel refreshed during the day. Your doctor may refer you to an accredited sleep center for help.


  1. 1 Andrea 04 Jan
    I used to be a happy short sleeper but then I developed psychosis and mania and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I often wonder if these things are connected. 
  2. 2 Anna 07 Aug
    I think i am a long sleeper because ever since I can remember, I've been sleeping for 12 hours a night, but I'm 14 so I don't know if it's just me being a teenager. I always go to sleep at around 10-12 and I wake up at 12 everyday
  3. 3 EMMA D. 29 Jun
    I am a proud LONG SLEEPER! I wake up naturally after 10, 11 or 12 hours of sleep. I feel so good and never tired throughout the entire day. I fall asleep naturally. 
    I also enjoy the quality of sleep between 11pm and 12pm. I can't do this during the School year because I am a teacher. However my summer vacations and winter vacations prioritize sleeping my natural amount. My boyfriend is also a long sleeper which is a great match! Happy sleeping! Be proud!
  4. 4 Kelly 03 Jun
    I’m 37 and a natural long sleeper. All my life I’ve been berated for my sleep habits or told I must have a sleep disorder...but really I feel after my 10 or 11 the way people are “supposed” to feel after 7 or 8. I hate losing hours is the only thing. 
  5. 5 Kam 19 May
    Hi, I am 24 I am a long sleeper. During my graduation it was fine being a long sleeper but now I can't afford a sleep of more than 7 hours. Is it possible now ?
  6. 6 Sherylon 12 May
    I thought something was wrong with me. I am 64 years old and as long as I remember I needed 10 to 12 hours of sleep to feel refreshed. Having a job all my adult life and a family, prevented that for years. I would feel so exhausted and sleepy, I would sometimes nap in my car before driving home. Now I am retired and sleep a wonderful 11-12 hours each night and feel great!
  7. 7 T 25 Apr
    I've been a short sleeper for aslong as I could remember. I'm 22 and work 2 jobs. I'm always up at 5am in the morning and sometimes I dont get home till 11pm at night. I havent had a sleep-in since I was probably a child.
  8. 8 Ilya 04 Jan
    I'm 35. I need to sleep 10 hours. If I sleep 8 hours after 3-4 days I feel terrible and have a headache. I remember that when I was in school and in university, I also needed 10 hours of sleep. My parents and other relatives think that I'm just lazy. They say "you just need to get used to sleep 8 hours" The main problem is that I have 2 hours less in a day than "normal" people.
    I've tried to google about it but did not found any useful information.
  9. 9 Awadh 11 Sep
    I Get up every day at 5:30 O’clock in  the morning, weekend and holidays included , it’s not because I’m bad sleepers . it’s because  I start work early and I’m the one of those  who are people get up early are more productive . im going to bed after midnight because there’s much to go on. and i get up at these time because I’m short sleeper. so sleep must of need seven or eight hours we can live happily .people are surprise when get emails from me at night , or early in the morning but I never need much sleep, and I always feel good on it ,it’s just the way short sleeper 
  10. 10 matt 27 Jul
    @Ana - some long sleepers are normal, but if you have difficulties waking him and he is irritable (which sounds like sleep inertia) he may have a hypersomnia sleep disorder.
    Check out the both the narcolepsy and idiopathichypersomnia subreddits on Reddit.
    @Shay, they may not be in a lot of cases, but in some instances they can be signs of a dyssomnia such as insomnia or IH.
  11. 11 Mikethu 18 Apr
    Hi, I am 19 yrs and I am a long sleeper.Usually, I sleep more than9 hours.Id I dont get 9 hours of sleep, I feel tired.I just wanna say it is normal for long sleeper to gry more tham 9 hours of sleep.
  12. 12 shawn 16 Apr
    i am younger and in high school , i get less than an average of six hours of sleep this includes weekends and week days. Would this basically mean that i am a short sleeper, and if so how can I inform my parents of this occurrence without them thinking I am just a student trying to stay up more.
  13. 13 Shay 11 Feb
    @Ana - please reread the article, short sleepers and long sleepers are NOT a disorder. 
  14. 14 Ana 14 Dec
    My boyfriend is a long sleeper, I believe after doing some research. Which is fine, but it really bothers him as he finds himself sleeping all day and waking up really late. I've tried helping him wake up, usually many times over the course of hours but still he stays asleep. Or he'll get up, see what time it is, then go back to sleep out of...anger, or being upset. Also when I try to wake him he gets irritable and angry, it takes several times of me getting him conscious- 8\10 he'll push me away and roll over to continue sleeping. He refers to it as insomnia which isn't correct. With looking around for his specific behaviors and symptoms, I can't find anything. This is the closest I've come so far. He's the first person I've been with who has a sleeping disorder. It truly does upset him, and he expressed to me that he doesn't want it to control his life. So, if anybody has a link they can send my way or advice they can would help both of us immensely. I'm determined to help him.
  15. 15 Savannah 10 Dec
    I’m a 17 year old female and I’ve always noticed that I seem to need more sleep then the average person when younger it was dismissed as needing more sleep to grow but despite being almost fully developed my long sleeping never stopped. The amount of time I sleep isn’t so much an issue in my life right now. I maintain a job and excel in school. My issue with all of this is eye bags. I think sleeping so much is causing them and I’m not sure how to treat them. Any suggestions from other long sleepers is welcome 
  16. 16 Jesse 14 Oct
    Just a precaution with the 5 HTP suggestion, if you have mental health issues in the family relating to psychosis ie, bipolar, schizoaffective, schizophernia or any other disorders that involve psychosis probably don't take 5 HTP. There have been a couple of studies I have read that 5 HTP can cause psychosis in predisposed people. I also speak from personal experience of it triggering a psychosis episode.
  17. 17 Anne Lindell 11 Dec
    I’m 79, in good health and active, and have had what is now called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome since childhood. I’ve also been diagnosed with Primary Automomic Disorder, sympathetic and parasympathetic, with all body systems affected to some degree. 

    Do these two disorders often occur together? 
    Should I leave my brain to science? 🙂
  18. 18 Filip 23 Oct
    I'm a long sleeper and I would suggest people here to try out 5HTP which has stuff in it that helps the body to produce more serotonin. Serotonin is naturally in the brain and helps the day rythm clock, among other things in the body. My guess is that most long sleepers have a lack of serotonin production which makes us sleep so long. Anyone out there having the problem of sleeping very long I would suggest to check it out since it has helped me to wake up by myself after 6-7 hours feeling fully rested and alert through-out the day :)