Is Oversleeping Bad for Your Health?
It’s oh-so-easy to hit snooze on that alarm every morning. But every time you do, you’re throwing off the rest of your day. Did you know that oversleeping can even have some negative physical and mental side effects?
If excessive sleeping is throwing off your daily groove, you need some solutions. Keep reading to learn more about oversleeping, why it’s bad for your health, and what you can do to fix what seems like a never-ending cycle.
What is considered oversleeping?
The recommended amount of sleep each adult needs is 7 to 9 hours every night. Oversleeping (also called long sleeping or excessive sleeping) is when an adult sleeps more than 9 hours in a 24-hour period . Sleeping excessively may also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, like hypersomnia, which is why it is always important to check with a medical professional first .
Health conditions can cause oversleeping, like :
- Thyroid issues
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Certain medications
Hypersomnia is also called excessive daytime sleepiness, or EDS. Here are some quick facts about hypersomnia :
- Primary hypersomnia has no underlying medical conditions, and typically the only symptom is excessive fatigue.
- Secondary hypersomnia is usually due to other medical issues, like sleep apnea or chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Hypersomnia affects men more than women.
- Symptoms can include:
- Low energy
- Loss of appetite
- Slow thinking or speech
- Difficulty remembering
Is oversleeping hurting my health?
Oversleeping once in a blue moon is pretty normal, and sometimes, even needed (it might have been a pretty long work week, and the weekend is the time to catch some extra zzzs). But if you’ve found yourself sleeping in almost every morning, or struggling to get out of bed because you’re just too tired, you might have a chronic situation on your hands.
According to sleep experts, chronic oversleeping can lead to [1, 2, 3, 4, 6]:
- Sleep disturbances
- Sluggishness (low energy)
- Sleepiness during the day
- Issues with obligations like work or school
- Impaired concentration and cognition (memory problems)
- Poor sleep quality
- Feelings of disorganization and rushing
- Weight gain
- Back pain
- Heart disease
- Increased risk of death
Tips & Tricks to Curb Sleeping In
If you’re struggling with a cycle of excessive sleep, do not fret. We’ve got you covered. Of course, there are some medical conditions and lifestyle habits that can lead to oversleeping as well, so we recommend always checking with your professional primary caregiver to determine why you are oversleeping excessively.
Check out some of these tried and true suggestions:
Stick to a sleep scheduleWaking up at the same time every day, and going to bed at the same time every night, is very helpful for your body in creating a routine and rhythm. Your body will eventually become conditioned to expect to sleep at the same time every single day, which might make falling asleep easier at night.
Practice good sleep hygieneSleep hygiene refers to what you do before you hit the hay. Are you staying up all night on your phone, or are you reading a good book instead? Are you chugging a glass of wine or a cool glass of water? This can also apply to what you do for yourself during the day - are you drinking enough water, getting enough exercise, and eating healthy, nourishing foods?
Keep a sleep journalA sleep journal is a great place to jot down any concerns you have about your sleeping routine. Are you waking up in the middle of the night, unable to fall back asleep for more than 20 minutes? Are you having odd dreams that are affecting the quality of your sleep? Are you having difficulty breathing while you sleep? Any and all notes are good notes, and if you decide to visit a doctor, this journal will be incredibly helpful for them, too.
Try to avoid nappingIf your naps are going over 20 minutes each day, this might be affecting your snooze time. Studies have shown that a 10-minute nap is great for fighting fatigue and boosting focus, but longer than that might harm a regular sleep schedule . If you’re noticing that on days when you take naps you’re oversleeping into the next day, it might be time to curb napping altogether or train your body to nap for only 10 minutes.
Try natural alarmsNatural alarms allow you to create a positive relationship with mornings, rather than dreading the blaring sound of your alarm clock. This can look like something as simple as leaving the shades open to let the morning light in, or using a more gentle alarm clock that mimics natural light and uses soothing sounds like chirping birds.
Give yourself a relaxing morning routineStress, worry, and anxiety not only affect your day, but they can also affect your sleep, too. If you find that you’re constantly anxious, try out some relaxation techniques in the morning to ease into your day and start it with a win. Breathing exercises, meditation, slow yoga, morning walks with the dog in the sunshine, repeating a daily mantra, sitting outside on the patio for a few minutes, or whatever works best for you, are some great options to try out first.
Rethink your attitude toward waking up earlyOversleeping is generally followed by a negative outlook on mornings. Let’s be real - most of us aren’t morning people, and it’s because we dread rolling out of bed at the crack of dawn. If you’re a morning lark, kudos to you! Instead of hating the sun coming up, before you go to bed, try and think of at least one thing you can look forward to each morning. Is it your fancy morning latte? Is it heading out for a quick morning swim or run? Is it writing in a gratitude journal, or watering the plants? Whatever it might be, try to remember that every morning offers a new day full of opportunities and possibilities - keep it positive.
I still overslept - what do I do now?
Don’t worry - curbing a bad habit won’t happen overnight. Be gentle with yourself, and give your body the time it needs to readjust. If you slipped up today, that’s okay! We’re merely human. Here’s what you can do if you still slept in:
- Go on a morning run or do some form of exercise like taking the dog for a walk.
- Spend a little bit of time outside in the sunshine - vitamin D is a natural serotonin booster, and the sun outside has plenty to offer .
- Nourish your body with healthy foods - fruits and veggies are a great option.
- Practice some meditation - deep breathing is a popular and common choice.
- Read a book you’ve been leaving on the shelf - stimulate your mind with a good story.
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- Devore, Elizabeth E., Grodstein, Francine, Duffy, Jeanne F., Stampfer, Meir J., Czeisler, Charles A., Schernhammer, Eva S. (2014). Sleep Duration in Midlife and Later Life in Relation to Cognition, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.12790.
- Howard E. LeWine, M. D. (2020, June 15). Too little sleep, and too much, affect memory. Harvard Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/little-sleep-much-affect-memory-201405027136.
- Chaput JP, Després JP, Bouchard C, Tremblay A. The association between sleep duration and weight gain in adults: a 6-year prospective study from the Quebec Family Study. Sleep. 2008 Apr;31(4):517-23. doi: 10.1093/sleep/31.4.517. PMID: 18457239; PMCID: PMC2279744.
- Léger D, Beck F, Richard JB, Sauvet F, Faraut B. The risks of sleeping "too much". Survey of a National Representative Sample of 24671 adults (INPES health barometer). PLoS One. 2014 Sep 16;9(9):e106950. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106950. PMID: 25226585; PMCID: PMC4165901.
- Shoemaker, S. V. (2022, January 12). Depression and vitamin D deficiency. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/depression-and-vitamin-d#symptoms
- Marcin, A. (2020, June 12). Oversleeping: Causes, health risks, and more. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/oversleeping.
- Amber Brooks, PhD, Leon Lack, PhD, A Brief Afternoon Nap Following Nocturnal Sleep Restriction: Which Nap Duration is Most Recuperative?, Sleep, Volume 29, Issue 6, June 2006, Pages 831–840, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/29.6.831.