"Nor can I see potential for one to become psychologically dependent or addicted to sleep."
I believe someone can become "psychologically dependent on sleep".
I am 47 and have used sleep for 40 years to escape from life. I typically sleep 4-6 hours too much each day. I don't really physically need this sleep, since I then am often awake the next night for oversleeping that day, or I get a very strange tingling feeling in my body when I am forcing myself to sleep more and my body simply can't sleep any more. Also, I wake up after a normal 8hrs, feel like I can't face the day and force myself to go back to sleep with more breaks of waking up and forcing myself back to sleep for the next 4-5 hours.
My sleep gets in the way of living a full day and being productive. When I finish my day, I am frustrated that I lost so many hours to sleep.
I have tried everything for the last 25 years to address this. I have tried 7 years of psychotherapy, personal will power, all kinds of sleep and activity schedules, full physical examinations, talking with a sleep specialist, etc.
I always seem to eventually drift back into using sleep as a way of getting out of life.
I am generally an intelligent, capable person, have a college degree, reached a decent level professionally, travelled around the world, etc. I look like a normal person but the sleep problem makes functioning difficult.
I have had some childhood trauma, depression, anxiety which I have worked with extensively with psychotherapy.
Sleep feels like an addiction to me because
. I crave it several times a day and am looking forward to how I can sneak it in.
. I don't seem to be able to control it with will power for very long.
. If I have a successful period, I seem to always eventually slip back into it.
. I only have short periods when this isn't a problem.
. When I am under stress it is at it's worse.
. If I have any free or unstructured time, I can't control how much I sleep excessively.
. When my time is heavily scheduled, I really struggle with keeping a full schedule and crave the time off when I can sleep for hours.
. If I know I'll have a few hours in between activities free, I will find ways to sneak in some sleep.
. I am embarrassed about this, don't tell the people around me the extent of the problems and devise ways to sneak in sleep without people knowing.
. If I am anxious, I use sleep as a way to reboot my system, calm myself down or get another perspective.
. After I have chosen excessive sleep over being up, I struggle with self-recriminations about how much of my life I have wasted, how I didn't accomplish the things I wanted, why it was not good for me, how most of my day was gone, etc.
The upside is my addition only hurts me.
For me, sleep addiction (and perhaps food addiction for others) are different than gambling, alcohol, smoking, drugs. Sleep is something you must do each day to live. I have no problem with total abstinence of things that aren't good for me (like drugs, etc). However, I really struggle day after day with getting up out of sleep.
I have researched this and I have not found any studies on "sleep addiction". However, in medical sleep science journals and among a few psychiatric journals there are recent studies on "delayed sleep phase syndrome" and "non- 24 hour sleep phase syndrome", whereby people who appear to sleep excessively simply have a malfunction of how melantonin is secreted in the system (perhaps due to the recent advent of the electric lightbulb) and do not sleep when most humans sleep. Studies are showing that a much larger percentage of the population unknowingly struggle with this disorder in isolation all their lives. This is turning out to be the be the biggest sleep disorder affecting the most number of people, even above insomnia and apnea. This is very little understood and has only been discovered and documented in science journals since 1981. DSPS is a recognized disability in the government disability system.
It seems that there is a huge gulf between the studies and expertise of medical sleep science and that of psychology/psychiatric studies on the sleep difficulties and the use of excessive sleep as a psychological coping mechanism.