Is Oversleeping Bad? Here’s What You Need To Know
Oversleeping can be bad, especially when it poses health problems. But when you’re tired and not ready to get moving, it can be incredibly easy to sleep right through your alarm.
Unfortunately, oversleeping can have some physical and mental side effects that can throw off your day, which is why it’s important to learn ways to avoid sleeping too much.
How Much Sleep Is Too Much?
Often, “too much” sleep for the average person is more than nine hours. If you require more than nine hours per night, it might indicate that you have underlying health conditions or are suffering from sleep deprivation.
However, as you age, the hours of sleep you need per night might vary.
What Is Oversleeping?
Also known as hypersomnia, oversleeping is when you get over nine hours of sleep within a 24-hour period.
Some people with hypersomnia experience excessive sleepiness throughout the day. People who oversleep also tend to suffer from other conditions like narcolepsy or difficulty staying awake.
Oversleeping typically occurs when trying to make up for “sleep debt” or lack of sleep. Here are a few symptoms you might experience if you start oversleeping:
- Headaches and migraines
- Low energy throughout the day
- Productivity issues
- Poor memory retention
- Decreased immune function
While getting more hours of sleep per night isn’t always dangerous, it does come with risks. For instance, those who get more sleep per night are more likely to develop obesity. Other studies have suggested that regular oversleeping can potentially cause cardiovascular disease and high blood sugar.
What Causes Oversleeping?
Many potential factors can cause oversleeping – the most common are fatigue and not having regular sleep hours. Roughly 10% to 20% of people experience excessive sleepiness due to exhaustion.
Below are a few other factors that can cause oversleeping:
People with insomnia often feel excessive sleepiness yet have trouble falling or staying asleep. While insomnia is challenging to diagnose, even for professionals, you might suffer from it if you:
- Are unable to fall or stay asleep
- Wake up in the morning because you can’t stay asleep
- Pace continually throughout the night in an attempt to induce sleepiness
According to a sleep study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), most normal sleepers require at least 7 to 9 hours per night to feel rested. However, 20% of adults fail to get sufficient sleep due to demanding work environments, personal obligations, or high activity levels.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when someone temporarily stops breathing in their sleep. The two primary types of this disorder include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): When the muscles that support the soft tissues in the back of the throat relax, it could cause blockages in the airway.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA): When the brain fails to signal respiratory muscles to breathe, it obstructs sleep.
Depending on the severity of the condition, these sleep obstructions can happen up to a hundred times every night. When sleep apnea occurs, you become temporarily starved of oxygen – this can cause irregular heartbeats or chronic diseases like high blood pressure.
You might suffer from sleep apnea if you experience symptoms like loud snoring or the inability to breathe while asleep.
According to previous studies, sleeping more than eight hours a night directly correlates with thyroid problems.
If your thyroid fails to produce specific hormones, it can affect your circadian rhythm, causing you to oversleep. In addition, you might feel groggy and cranky no matter how much sleep you get. Some people with overactive thyroids also experience night sweats.
Fortunately, you can quickly determine whether thyroid problems are causing sleep obstructions by taking a blood test.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) occurs when you experience an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. RLS can happen when you are awake, but it happens more commonly when you are asleep. These leg spasms and jerking can wake a person or interrupt the REM cycle, making them feel sluggish and tired the following day. RLS is typical in people with dopamine abnormalities, as this chemical in the brain controls muscle movements.
Smoking can exacerbate RLS, so if you want to improve your symptoms, consider cutting down or quitting. In addition, you can exercise regularly to improve this condition.
Narcolepsy occurs when a person falls asleep randomly, even during everyday tasks. This disorder affects sleep-wake cycles and might include symptoms like sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and little amounts of sleep.
You can improve narcolepsy with stimulant medications and antidepressants. Napping throughout the day can also improve this condition.
Subjects with depression may experience difficulty sleeping. The two chronic diseases have a bidirectional relationship, meaning one can cause the other and vice versa.
If you suffer from depressive symptoms, you might experience sleep apnea, hypersomnia, insomnia, and generally disrupted circadian rhythms. On the other hand, oversleeping can also increase the rate of depression in populations that suffer from the same symptoms.
If you take specific medications on a regular basis, you might experience side effects like sleeplessness or fatigue. These medications might include the following:
- Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication
- Medications for hypertension
If you’re prescribed a new medication, always discuss potential side effects with your healthcare provider.
Is Oversleeping Bad?
Oversleeping is bad because it can quickly spiral into a sleep pattern that leaves you oversleeping more frequently than not. Oversleeping can cut into your daily life by making you late for work, school, appointments, or even plans with family and friends. Another risk factor is that it might make you feel rushed and disorganized as you get ready for the day.
But the effects of oversleeping can extend beyond your social obligations; there can also be some physical consequences. In fact, some of the side effects you might experience from sleep deprivation may also be explained by too much sleep.
For example, one study found that women who slept too little or too much experienced impaired cognition compared to those who slept seven hours per day, especially if their average amount of sleep changed by more than two hours over time. And, just like you could have increased headaches or migraines from a lack of sleep, the same might happen from oversleeping.
There is also an association between sleeping too little or too much and poor sleep quality. You may be sleeping longer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleeping well. This could be why you feel extreme sleepiness upon waking or excessive daytime sleepiness when you oversleep.
Experts continue to study other potential side effects of oversleeping, including weight gain. Some research shows a possible link between oversleeping and a weight gain risk, similar to that of not getting enough sleep. Depression is another potential point of study, although experts have mostly determined that it might cause oversleeping rather than be a symptom of oversleeping.
longer sleep duration, like a sleep disorder or poor sleep habits, that your doctor can help you pinpoint.
Medical Problems Linked to Oversleeping
There are links between oversleeping and specific medical problems, including the following.
Coronary Heart Disease
Adults who get over the recommended number of sleep hours per night are more at risk of developing heart disease. Like diet and exercise, too much sleep can increase your cardiovascular risk score because inflammation increases. In addition, people already afflicted with coronary heart disease often experience poor sleep.
According to previous studies by the Seoul National University College of Medicine, too much sleep can exacerbate metabolic diseases such as low glucose tolerance, diabetes, and obesity.
In the population-based study, participants who got over ten hours of sleep had higher triglyceride and blood glucose levels, low “good” cholesterol levels, and tended to experience hypertension. In addition, women were more at risk of metabolic syndrome.
Sleep problems commonly occur as a symptom of depression and vice versa. In a 2017 community-based cohort study of sleep duration, 92% of participants with depression had trouble sleeping. When depression affects mood and energy, people become more lethargic, lose interest in their hobbies, and have difficulty getting up.
Tips to Avoid Oversleeping
- Try natural alarms.
- Stick to a sleep schedule.
- Practice sleep hygiene.
- Keep a sleep diary.
- Try to avoid naps.
- Be mindful of what you do during the day.
- Try stress relief techniques.
- Give yourself a morning routine.
- Make a daily plan.
Below are some tips for oversleeping that you can use to reset your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Try Natural Alarms
First, consider learning how to wake up naturally. Alarm clocks can be brutal in the early morning hours when you’re comfortable sleeping in bed. The last thing you want is to have a distaste for waking in the morning because you dread the sound of your alarm clock blaring.
Stick To A Sleep Schedule
It might take some time to learn how to fix your sleep schedule. You’ll need to train your mind and body to prepare for bedtime to achieve the sleep quality necessary to wake up and feel refreshed in the morning.
Start with a nighttime routine that’s generally the same each night. You might read a book before bed, then take 10 or 15 minutes to meditate. Maybe you take a soothing bath before getting ready for bed. Do whatever helps you relax before lying down and shutting your eyes at your chosen bedtime.
Practice Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is the process of preparing yourself for bedtime. The activities you do before bed can help your brain remember that sleep is coming, making it easier for you to drift off, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed. In other words, good sleep hygiene could enhance your natural circadian rhythm and prevent sleep deprivation.
Keep A Sleep Diary
A sleep diary is a collection of notes about your sleeping routine. You can use it to jot down the times you go to sleep, the times you wake up, any night awakenings you had, dreams you can remember, and your overall quality of sleep. It can be as simple or detailed as you want it to be, but the more information you provide, the easier it will be to see sleep patterns.
For oversleepers, a sleep diary might point out a potential sleep issue, like frequent wakings during the night or getting to bed late. Your information can also be incredibly helpful for your doctor, should you choose to make an appointment to discuss your hypersomnia concerns.
Try To Avoid Naps
Naps can be a good thing if you use them sparingly and don’t make them hours long. Unfortunately, some people experience interference with their nighttime sleep when they nap during the day. Research shows that a 10-minute nap is the most effective at curbing excessive sleepiness and boosting alertness, but longer than that might harm your regular sleep schedule.
Be Mindful Of What You Do During The Day
Giving yourself a bedtime routine is an excellent way to wind down for the night and prepare for bed, but being aware of good and bad habits during the day that might affect your sleep is another way to ensure that you’re doing what you can to get the rest you need.
What might help you sleep better at night? Exercise! Although experts are still deciding when the best time to exercise is to promote sleep, it’s clear that exercise can help you fall asleep and improve how well you sleep through the night. The more activity you sneak in throughout the day, the better you might find yourself sleeping at night. And you might even sleep well enough that you avoid oversleeping.
Also, watch how much caffeine you drink, especially near bedtime. Consuming soda, tea, coffee, and other drinks (or foods) with caffeine within six hours of bedtime could lead to poor sleep quality and sleep loss, causing a potential morning of oversleeping.
Try Stress Relief Techniques
Stress and anxiety can have profound effects on your sleep pattern. If you’re worrying, you might not be able to fall asleep easily. You might even find yourself waking up during the night and worrying some more before sleeping past your alarm.
One of the best things you can do to improve your sleep is to focus on relieving stress as much as possible. We know: It’s easier said than done. But little steps can make a profound impact when it comes to lowering stress.
First, try breathing exercises when you feel anxious. It might be a good idea to use them as you settle into bed for the night, too. Belly breathing can be especially beneficial in lowering stress.
You might also learn how to practice meditation or yoga, which helps you feel mindful and grounded. Exercising can also have a positive impact on your overall mood.
Give Yourself A Morning Routine
Create a consistent morning routine that works for you. Pick a time to regularly wake up.
Make A Daily Plan
When you have a plan for the day, you might feel more obligated to stick to it. And that’s good news for your brain when it wants to oversleep.
Try writing down your plan for the next day on paper every evening. Read over it a few times before you go to sleep. Then, rehearse your plan in your head in the morning. It could increase your willingness to get up, get moving, and check tasks off your list.
How Is Oversleeping Diagnosed?
While sleep disorders can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, there are a few clinical assessments that a sleep specialist can perform to identify core problems.
The Epworth Sleepiness Scale and Stanford Sleepiness Scale are common questionnaires specialists use to diagnose sleep disorders. These tests measure the likelihood of falling asleep when engaging in activities like watching television, engaging with people, driving, sitting quietly, and more.
A polysomnograph (PSG) is an overnight test that measures brain waves, breathing patterns, and heart rhythms in your sleep. It provides information regarding disruptions over a set duration of sleep.
During the test, a specialist will place electrodes on your chest, legs, temples, and scalp to track blood oxygen levels, limb movement, eye movement, blood pressure, skeletal muscle activity, and more.
Multiple Sleep Latency Testing
The Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) measures daytime sleepiness by determining how quickly you can fall asleep over multiple intervals. Patients will undergo testing over five 20-minute habitual sleep durations scheduled every two hours.
During each interval, a technician will measure brain activity and how frequently the patient enters REM sleep.
If you think you might suffer from oversleeping, remember these key takeaways:
- The average duration of sleep for a healthy adult should be between 7-9 hours. You might be oversleeping if you get more than 9 hours of sleep time.
- Potential causes of oversleeping are poor health habits, traumatic events, disruptive lifestyle factors, sleep apnea, metabolic disorders, psychiatric disorders, restless leg syndrome, and other medical conditions.
- You can avoid getting excessive amounts of sleep by adjusting health variables like diet, exercise, and lifestyle.
- To diagnose oversleeping, you might undergo an interview, polysomnograph, or multiple sleep latency testing.
- Some of the best ways to improve mood and physical health after sleeping include exercising, spending time outdoors, changing your diet, and practicing good sleep hygiene.
What happens if you sleep too much?
Sleeping too much has many negative mental and physical effects, especially for oversleepers with existing medical conditions. Oversleeping can increase mortality risks and cause your health to deteriorate.
Why does oversleeping make you tired?
Oversleeping makes you tired because it disrupts your regular sleep cycle and sends the wrong signals to your brain. Your cells then become unable to regulate energy.
What causes a person to sleep a lot?
A person might sleep a lot because of poor health habits, a disruptive sleeping environment, cardiovascular events, lifestyle factors, mental diseases, respiratory diseases, and other conditions. How much sleep a person gets can also be influenced by racial differences, body mass, and genetic predispositions.
The best way to find out why you are oversleeping is to undergo clinical assessments.