Long Sleepers demonstrate long sleep patterns since childhood
When a sleep study is performed, the test is able to view and log an entire night of sleep including all your stages of sleep while monitoring things like brainwave activity, heart rate and blood pressure. This is the main test used to determine causes for Hypersomnia, Insomnia, Sleep Apnoea and other related sleep conditions.
Often times, when we discuss concern regarding our sleeping, our Physicians will ask us what our baseline is. A Baseline is what is considered normal for you most of the time when there are no extenuating circumstances present such as temporary routine change or viral illness. When I was inquiring about my sleep length concerns, I was told to log my sleep time in relation to my restfulness for three weeks. When I presented this data to my Doctor, they established (along with history of my infant sleep patterns given by my Mother) that my baseline for restful sleep is a minimum of 9 hours, and a maximum of 10.5 hours if I am operating on a deficit for a few days prior.
Ask Your Family
In my experience, long sleepers tend to come by it honestly and note that one or many other members of their blood-related family experienced the same thing. Upon inquiry, I determined that my Paternal Grandmother is also a long sleeper. Although my Bisnonni passed away long before I was born, my Nonna is still alive today. She would tell me stories of how her Mother (my Bisnonna) would yell and scream and throw her out of bed when she slept in, and how she couldn’t help that she needed so much sleep. Her father (my Bisnonno) was compassionate and would understand her desire for more sleep, and Nonna often describes him saying things like “Lascia stare, lei bene! Ha bisogno!” (Translation: Leave her, she’s fine. She needs it!) and said that he was always showing sympathy for her extended sleeping patterns. This could mean (anecdotally of course) that there is a line of long sleepers in my family genetically passed from my Bisnonno, down to my Nonna, through my Father and onto me.
Scientists see a correlation to longer sleep and mortality, but they don’t know why or how
In this article, there is mention of this phenomenon, as well what seemed to me as a relevant and logical explanation.
They mention an extensive study performed in Sweden over a 15 year span where researchers discovered that short sleepers, regardless of the amount of physical activity they did during the day, had a much higher incidence of death over the 15 years than did normal sleepers.
They also noted that in the long sleeper group, the amount of physical activity was the most important factor in predicting early mortality. They determined that only those who had the lowest levels of exercise saw an increase in early mortality. The lack of physical exercise and increase in sedentary activity correlated to Cardiovascular Disease and episodes such as Stroke and Heart Attack.
In summary, the study reveals that those who sleep less than six hours a night are at increased risk for early death even if they are active. It also revealed that if you maintain a reasonable level of physical activity, sleeping more than 8 hours a night will not increase your chance of premature mortality.