Too Much of a Good Thing: 4 Things You Need to Know About Oversleeping

We often talk about the need for more sleep, but there are also folks on the opposite side of the spectrum: oversleeping. A variety of reasons may be at play, including going to sleep too late, not maintaining a steady sleep schedule, or conditions like depression and hypersomnia.

So what’s considered too much? Anything beyond 9 hours, most experts agree. One Sunday sleep-in isn’t anything to be worried about, but chronic oversleeping can lead to larger problems. If you’re among the over-sleepers, or you’re worried a loved one is getting too many z’s, read on for some of the side effects of oversleeping plus four simple ways to get back on track.

Effects of oversleeping

Interrupted circadian rhythm

  • One of the best ways to regulate your internal clock is with exposure to early-morning sun.
    Late-risers miss out on this powerful cue from the sun, which throws off their internal rhythm and leads to sleep challenges like insomnia.

Fatigue and drowsiness

  • Unfortunately, you can’t stockpile sleep—anything past 9 hours starts to have the opposite of effect: you wake up feeling even more tired than before. This phenomenon is also known as a sleep hangover.

Headaches

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  • Ever woken up with a pounding headache? It may have been because you overslept. Throwing off your regular weekday sleep schedule is enough to disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause some major pain. If you’re a coffee drinker, a morning headache may be caused by caffeine withdrawal. Same goes if you sleep through breakfast—just about everyone gets achy-headed after skipping a meal.

Compromised heart health

  • Chronic over-sleepers are at a higher risk for coronary heart disease and stroke.

Weight gain

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  • Energy that’s not being used will get stored, so if you’re not moving for prolonged periods, as with chronic oversleeping, weight gain may follow.

Back pain:

  • Bodies like to be in motion, so prolonged periods of inactivity can take a toll. Oversleeping, especially if it’s done an uncomfortable bed or in an uncomfortable position, leads to sore and achy muscles.

How to overcome it

Get on schedule

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  • When your body is programmed to sleep and wake at the same time each day, you’re much less likely to under or oversleep. To help stay on track, develop a bedtime routine that you follow each night, keep the bedroom cool and dark, and try positioning the alarm clock across the room—it’s a lot harder to snooze when you’ve already gotten out of bed.

Assess your sleep space

  • If your sleep quality is poor, you may be oversleeping to compensate. If that’s the case, you’ll want to address the root cause. Is your partner moving around and keeping you awake? Is your mattress too hard or soft? Is it possible you have sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or another disruptive sleep ailment? Ask yourself a few questions and make the necessary adjustments.

Pump up the endorphins

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  • Physical activity triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter tied to restful sleep—when the quality of your sleep improves, you’ll need less of it to feel fully rested. Plus, regular exercise increases feelings of positivity and happiness (due to the production of feel-good brain chemicals), making it easier to wake up at a good time and start enjoying the day.

Let the sun shine

  • Exposure to early morning light (between the hours of 6 and 8:30 AM) regulates your internal clock and keeps your sleep schedule in check. In turn, you’ll start to feel sleepy as the sun goes down, making it easier to fall asleep at a good hour.

Sources:

Wired: http://www.wired.com/2014/07/whats-up-with-that-why-does-sleeping-in-just-make-me-more-tired/
How Stuff Works: http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/sleep/basics/how-to-fall-asleep2.htm
UCLA Sleep Center http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/circadian-rhythms
Sleep.org: https://sleep.org/articles/circadian-rhythm-body-clock/