Oversleeping: Causes, Effects & Prevention

Tara Youngblood Aug 30, 2022

Effects of oversleeping

We’ve all heard the phrase, “too much of a good thing.”

Consuming too much food can cause weight gain, eating too much candy can lead to cavities, and even drinking too much water can be potentially harmful.

Sleeping longer than one should on a regular basis can be too much of a good thing as well.

Everyone knows that sleep plays a crucial role in our overall health, and skimping our sleep is never good. Less sleep can cause chronic diseases and make anyone feel sluggish and irritable throughout the day.

However, they may not realize that too much sleep can be dangerous to their overall health.

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What is Oversleeping?

Oversleeping, known as "hypersomnia, " occurs when a person sleeps more than nine hours within a 24-hour period. [1] This amount of sleep varies from person to person. For example, some individuals may only need six hours while others require a lot more..

Oversleeping doesn't affect individuals that need an extra hour or two of sleep and has no impact on those who need the extra sleep after a long trip, staying out late, recovering from illness, or even jet lag. Oversleeping takes place when somebody gets more sleep than their body needs, such as sleeping for 11 to 13 hours each night.

Is Too Much Sleep a Bad Thing?

Individual sleep needs vary, but those needs also alter based on age and gender. The best amount of sleep for each person varies from person to person. Sleeping often “here and there” typically isn't that bad for you.

Hours of Sleep Needed by Age

How many hours of sleep do we need? Well, the recommendations vary from person to person.

Below are recommendations for the amount of sleep needed:

  • Infants (ages 0 - 3 months): 14 -17 hours per day
  • Infants (ages 4 - 11 months): 12 - 15 hours per day
  • Toddlers (1 - 2 years old): 11 - 14 hours per day
  • Preschool (3 - 5 years old): 10 - 13 hours per day
  • School-Aged Children (6 - 13 years old): 9 - 11 hours per day
  • Teenagers (14 - 17 years old): 8 - 10 hours per day
  • Majority of Adults: 7 - 9 hours per day
  • Older Adults (65+): 7 -8 hours of sleep at night

Sleep Study: The Risk of Oversleeping "Too Much" [2]

Depression

Oversleeping Causes

Even though occasionally oversleeping is OK, regularly oversleeping may indicate a health issue. Oversleeping can result in a negative impact on a person’s well-being and physical health.

Below are a few conditions to be aware of that may result in oversleeping:

Oversleeping: Health Conditions

  • Depression

  • Certain Medication

  • Thyroid Issues

  • Heart Disease

  • Chronic Pain

  • Obesity

  • Narcolepsy

  • Restless Leg Syndrome

Other Causes of Oversleeping

  • Environment Factors

  • Drugs and Alcohol

  • Physical Injuries

  • Time Zone

  • Environment Factors

  • Lifestyle Factors

Read More: Idiopathic Hypersomnia

What Happens If You Sleep Too Much?

Oversleeping can indicate specific health problems. Sleeping too much can occur during spells of stress or sickness but eventually restores itself once those two factors wither away.

But longer-term health issues, such as heart disease or diabetes, can lead to chronic oversleeping and may affect sleep. [3] “Researchers are careful to note, however, that two other factors—depression and low socioeconomic status—are strongly associated with oversleeping,” according to a WebMD article.

Did You Know: Roughly 15% of people with depression sleep too much or have difficulty sleeping.

Afterward, the article links the lower socioeconomic status with less access to healthcare, indicating that improperly treated (or untreated) illnesses can lead to oversleeping..

Organizations, including the National Sleep Foundation, are big supporters of the seven to nine hours of sleep per night. But if you're regularly sleeping more than nine hours and still feeling tired and fatigued, that indicates you're oversleeping.

We believe the better metric is always the quality of sleep. If you're concerned that you're oversleeping, take inventory of your current circumstances; if you're stressed or sick, work to address those elements first and see if a healthier sleep pattern returns.

If you oversleep for an extended period of time, it's recommended to see your doctor. That way, you can address any real medical conditions about your oversleeping concerns and ensure you don't have more severe disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or hypersomnia.

Impact of Oversleeping on Your Body

Similar to lack of sleep, oversleeping can negatively affect your overall health. The longer you sleep, the following complications can potentially occur, including:

  • Headaches
  • Frequent mental distress
  • Obesity
  • Back Pain
  • Lessen your body’s immune function
  • Can potentially worsen inflammation in the body
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Read More: What is Sleep Health and Why is it Important

Headache

How to Stop Oversleeping?

A pattern can be challenging to break, mainly if you’ve been doing it for years. Yet, there are specific items you can do to break the habit of oversleeping and start getting better sleep (and less of it).

Keeping a sleep journal, developing a nightly routine, and modifying the type of alarm clock you use are all ways that can help you prevent oversleeping.

We all know that some habits take more steps to break than others, so don’t get frustrated if you don’t notice immediate results. Rather, continue working on it and try various things to see what works and is most helpful.

The good news is that various techniques are available to help you combat oversleeping. Below are a few suggestions that can help you from oversleeping too much.

Remember, if you continue to oversleep, you may want to discuss this with your primary physician.

Sleep Diary

Do you find yourself oversleeping? It can be difficult to understand why it's occurring. Often, it's recommended to use a diary to track your sleep habits. They are used to help you easily document your sleep, while they can help you and your physician understand your sleep pattern.

It can also help identify sleep disruption and other factors influencing sleep quality. [4] Identifying details about your sleep habit can show ways to explain your sleep issues further.

What Does a Sleep Diary Include:

It records daily important sleep habits or related details. Although not all sleep diaries are similar, they typically include details about:

  • Start of bedtime
  • Wake-up time
  • Sleep latency; how long it takes to fall asleep
  • The number and duration of sleep interruptions
  • Duration and number of daytime naps
  • Perceived sleep quality
  • Consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and/or tobacco
  • Daily medications
  • Number of exercises and duration

Create a sleep schedule

Develop a Sleep Schedule

It sounds simple, but it can be difficult for some individuals. It's best to work on setting aside no more than eight hours of sleep. Creating a sleep schedule can help you train your mind and body. Being consistent helps get you back on track with a program.

Read More: Circadian Rhythm and Sleep: Structure, Function & More

If you're unsure about a schedule, give it at least a month, but try to always go to bed at the same time and always wake up at the same time, including on the weekends. You may be amazed how much sleep loves habit and consistency.

Sleeping Tip: If you don't fall asleep within the first 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and try to do something relaxing.

Bedtime Routine

Like a healthy sleep schedule, a soothing nighttime routine can do wonders! It can help create a relaxing evening close to bedtime. This can help with falling asleep, delivering quality sleep, and making it easier to wake up in the morning.

It's best to embrace it and develop a healthy nighttime routine. Give some of the below a try before sleeping and see which works best for you:

Create a Sleep Routine

  • Listen to Relaxing Music

  • Reading a Book or Favorite Magazine

  • Sleep Meditation

  • Perform Yoga Nidra

  • Journaling; Write Down Your Thoughts

  • Avoid Bright Screens, Including Smartphones, Computers, or TV.

  • Trying Calm Activities Such as Meditation

  • Limit Heavy Meals, Amount of Caffeine, and Intense Physical Activity

  • Creating a Dark and Peaceful Sleep Space

  • Lower Your Core Body Temperature Using a Cooling Mattress Pad

Fewer Naps During the Day

Naps offer plenty of benefits, but taking a nap, especially when you don't need them, can make you groggy and overtired. Additionally, taking a nap can lead to you getting too much sleep.

Sleeping Tip: Some people may find that power naps of just 10 to 20 minutes helps them feel refreshed and more energized.

Update Your Sleep Environment

Creating a bedroom ideal for sleeping can help significantly. Take time and make sure that your bedroom temperature is cool, free of excess lighting, and free of objects that can affect the quality of your sleep, including your television.

Studies have shown that individuals sleep better when their bedroom is optimized for light exposure, noise levels, temperature, and comfort. [5] Temperature is essential in creating the ideal sleep environment. A bedroom that promotes sleep can improve your feelings while awake.

Read More: Benefits of Sleeping at Cooler Temperatures

Avoid the Snooze Button

Hitting the snooze button is easy to do, but completely getting up and out of bed may help wake the body and mind up and help prevent you from falling back asleep or oversleeping.

Sleep Fact: Roughly 57% of people say they snooze daily.

Exercise with your dog

Exercise Daily

Whether walking your pet or hitting the gym, any exercise is beneficial. Exercising during the day prepares your body for deep sleep at night, which helps you wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. When you feel energized and refreshed, you’re less likely to wake up groggy or tired, making you want to continue sleeping.

Read More: Does Exercise Help with Sleep?

Final Thoughts

If you can avoid oversleeping, it helps keep your sleep cycle on track. If you oversleep for short periods, find ways to manage stress, sleep deprivation, or illness before being too concerned. If you sleep too much for an extended period, you should contact your doctor to see if underlying issues are causing it or potential sleep disorders. In the end, quality of sleep is just as important as quantity.

Citations

[1] Kim, Y., Wilkens, L. R., Schembre, S. M., Henderson, B. E., Kolonel, L. N., & Goodman, M. T. (2013). Insufficient and excessive amounts of sleep increase the risk of premature death from cardiovascular and other diseases: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Preventive medicine, 57(4), 377–385. View Study

[2] 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.

[3] Parker, H. (2008, July 24). Physical Side Effects of Oversleeping. WebMD; WebMD. View Resource

[4] Carney, C. E., Buysse, D. J., Ancoli-Israel, S., Edinger, J. D., Krystal, A. D., Lichstein, K. L., & Morin, C. M. (2012). The consensus sleep diary: standardizing prospective sleep self-monitoring. Sleep, 35(2), 287–302. View Study

[5] Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (n.d.). View Resource

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