A lot of us look forward to sleeping in on weekends. While the occasional extended nap is usually not a cause for concern, oversleeping regularly could brew trouble for you.
Sleep is restorative, relaxing, important for your health, and a welcome mental and physical break. But what about evenings when you go to bed early and sleep like a rock, only to wake up feeling just as tired and groggy as when you sleep late?
Oversleeping can have some unwelcome—and quite paradoxical—side effects, the most common of which is daytime lethargy. However, if you only do it occasionally – sleeping more than you should – then it is not that big of a deal.
If you are wondering what could possibly happen if you overslept all the time, then let’s break it down for you.
What is Oversleeping?
But, what exactly is oversleeping? Experts define oversleeping as sleeping for over nine hours in 24 hours. Oversleeping usually suggests the presence of something else, such as an underlying sleep issue or another medical disease. It is a symptom, really, rather than a diagnosis.
You’ve probably overslept before when you were rebounding from a tough work week, a busy travel weekend, or a cold. We all do, but in cases such as these, oversleeping is normal. If you get up late to catch up on sleep, it is known as recovery sleep. However, if you catch up too much and too regularly—and sleep more than eight or nine hours daily—then, honey, you are oversleeping.
The amount of sleep you require fluctuates significantly throughout your life. It is determined by your age and degree of activity, as well as your overall health and lifestyle patterns. For example, during stress or illnesses, you may have a greater need for some extra hours of sleep. Although sleep requirements vary over time and from individual to individual, professionals usually recommend that adults sleep between seven and nine hours per night.
Is it possible to have too much of something good when it comes to sleep? Yes. Although a good night’s sleep keeps you healthy, oversleeping leaves a slew of medical issues in its wake.
In short, it’s better to follow the recommended sleep schedule and visit a doctor if you regularly sleep more than nine hours daily.
Is Oversleeping Bad?
For quite some time, it has been widely accepted that sleep deprivation has several harmful effects on the human body. However, many people are unaware that oversleeping is equally (and, in some ways, worse) detrimental.
Even as research into oversleeping expands and evolves, one thing remains true – excessive time spent in bed asleep is related to health risks. Oversleeping can lead to the following issues:
- cognitive impairment,
- increased inflammation and pain,
- heart problems, stroke,
- and even possibly impaired fertility.
Oversleeping has also been linked to an increase in headaches. Sleeping on weekends, also known as a weekend headache, can cause migraines and chronic headaches. The cause isn’t always sleeping, as other researchers attribute it to coffee withdrawal or excessive stress.
Symptoms of Oversleeping
While sleeping more than nine hours every night is one red indication, it is not the only one to watch for. If you oversleep and yet wake up tired, that is a problem.
There could be an issue if you don’t feel refreshed when you wake up after sawing logs for many hours. Oversleeping, according to experts, is usually followed by exhaustion symptoms during the day – such as grogginess, headaches, tiredness, and mood disturbances.
However, if you wake up feeling refreshed and relaxed after nine hours, you are just a long sleeper, not an oversleeper.
Some of us naturally require more sleep than others – approximately 2% of the population are long sleepers. These people need 10–12 hours of sleep every night regularly. If you force them into a regular seven-to-nine-hour sleeping pattern, it could prove to be harmful to them and result in sleep debt.
6 Tips to Stop Oversleeping
A number of self-care practices can help you combat oversleeping. Here are some ideas to help you quit sleeping too much:
- Don’t Snooze: Did you know there’s a term for repeatedly pressing the snooze button? It is known as drockling, and it specializes in disrupting your morning routine. Oversleeping and hitting the snooze button actually go hand in hand, and may even be harmful to your health. When you press the snooze button, your brain goes back to the sleep cycle. If you then press the snooze button again, your brain is drawn even further into the cycle. As a result, when you do wake up, you will be extremely drowsy.
- Maintain a Sleep Journal: Keep a sleep diary with you to chart your daily sleep record, such as a sleep journal. Keeping track of noise levels, sleep postures, and even what you eat and drink before bed can help you see trends and behaviors in your lifestyle and how they affect your sleep. You can then make changes accordingly to ensure you sleep properly.
- Have a Consistent Schedule: It doesn’t matter if you have to get up at 5 am or 9 am – the important thing is to remain consistent. Your body’s timekeeping clock monitors seasonal variations and light changes. If you have a constant wake-up time, these hormones will begin to give you a natural surge of energy.
- Avoid Napping: There is no need to nap during the day if you have slept for 7–8 hours at night. Since we tend to oversleep, a nap might just make us sleep for extended periods. So resist the impulse to slumber, hard as it might be.
- Stay Away From Screens: It’s alright to read before sleep, but you should avoid phones, iPads, and eBooks. Blue light from electronic devices can both delay the generation of sleep-inducing melatonin and enhance our body’s attentiveness, making it difficult to fall asleep.
If you’ve tried everything and nothing is working, it might be time to seek expert guidance from a medical practitioner.
Strike a Balance
At times, sleep is the only thing that keeps us sane, and we don’t worry too much even if we are oversleeping. But as long as you have it under control, it is okay. Staying on track and in charge of your daily routine is critical for sound sleep and health. Worrying and overthinking, on the other hand, will keep you up at night.
So, incorporate the changes we’ve recommended gradually and give yourself time to adjust to new situations. If something doesn’t work immediately, try not to get too irritated with yourself. If all you’ve done hasn’t worked, it might be time to seek medical attention and advice.