At a Glance
- “Studies found a positive association between sleep duration greater than 9 hours and cardiovascular disease.” (source)
- “Healthy sleep requires adequate duration, good quality, appropriate timing and regularity, and the absence of sleep disturbances or disorders. Adults should sleep 7 hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health.” (source)
- Studies into population sleeping habits, health and diseases is showing too much sleep is as bad for your health as too little.
To lead a healthy and productive lifestyle, we all need a healthy amount of sleep. Having a lie in on the weekend when we don’t have a routine to stick to is not a problem, many of us have this recovery catch up sleep. Similarly, late nights or illness can make us sleep longer and is not considered oversleeping.
So when it comes to oversleeping when is it considered a problem? What happens when you regularly sleep too much and why do you feel the need to sleep so long?
We look at what oversleeping is, common causes of oversleeping, the impact oversleeping has on your health and lifestyle, and practical lifestyle changes to take control and regain a healthy sleep routine.
What Is Oversleeping?
Experts recommend as adults we get between seven and eight hours of sleep a night for optimal health. (source) Many people suffer from insomnia and get far less than the recommended number of hours sleep, but what about those of us who oversleep sleeping nine hours or more every night?
Long sleepers who regularly sleep over nine hours a night are considered to be oversleeping. Around 30 percent of American adults fall into this category and according to health experts, it can disrupt your life in the same way as too little sleep. (source)
Oversleeping can mean you have a poor quality of sleep, making it difficult to get up when the alarm clock rings and can lead to daytime tiredness or fatigue – which is actually called a sleep hangover.
Main Causes for Oversleeping
Oversleeping can be caused by a number of health symptoms we look at the most common causes in a bit more detail:
For some people, oversleeping is actually a disease known as hypersomnia. Sufferers feel tired throughout the day and sleep for prolonged periods of time, usually 10 hours or more at night. Their sleep is not restless, and limiting sleep to less than 10 hours has a negative effect on lifestyle and daytime alertness.
According to “The American Sleep Organization” this disease affects 2% of the adult American population. Hypersomnia begins in childhood and reasons for the condition are currently unknown. (source)
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition that leads to regularly interrupted sleep. Whilst sleeping, your breathing pauses and you wake from deep sleep into light sleep. This pattern can repeat several times throughout the night, meaning the sufferer is unable to get a full night of restful sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that causes oversleeping. Sufferers complain of fatigue, tiredness, and a general lack of energy. Sleepiness is a key factor, as sleep apnea disrupts the pattern of healthy sleep, awaking briefly whilst sleeping to restore breathing is the cause. (source)
Oversleeping is common with people who suffer depression. Clinical trials have shown both insomnia and excessive sleeping symptoms with individuals suffering from depression. The cycle of oversleeping and daytime fatigue starts before depression and visa versa.
Generally those who are depressed suffer from a poor quality of sleep and experience more sleep distresses than healthy individuals. (source)
People who need to take medication that causes drowsiness may often oversleep; this reason for oversleeping may only be temporary and should not cause too much distress.
If you are taking medication for a medical condition and the side effect of drowsiness are uncomfortable and making you oversleep and fatigued, try to seek an alternative from your physician.
Stress is a common symptom of a modern 24hr lifestyle. Most of us associate stress with lack of sleep, but the opposite is true as well.
Stress and oversleeping are common, whether it’s down to not wanting to face the stress and staying in bed or the fact you could not switch off for hours the night before, which lead to staying awake and in turn you slept in.
Alcohol is known to affect a person’s sleep cycle, making you sleep longer and causing disturbed, non-restful sleep.
A study where participants had an alcoholic drink up to 1 hour before to retiring to bed, resulted in a sleep cycle that was fragmented, fitful and did not make the body refreshed for the next day. (source)
Oversleeping is just a habit for some people who just simply love sleep. Modern lifestyles mean that many of us do not have a structured routine.
With a huge percentage of work being done remotely online, this means that homeworkers do not have to get up for work, unlike those whose place of work is in an office. This can lead to bad habits of getting up late, working through the night and in turn, oversleeping.
Oversleeping Side Effects
Just as too little sleep affects your health, so does oversleeping. Your circadian rhythm, known as the body’s internal clock, gets out of sync easily.
By sleeping for long periods of time, you increase your risk of common physical and psychological complaints; as well as increasing the risk of developing numerous health conditions and diseases.
The circadian rhythms we have are produced naturally within the body, responding to light and darkness in your environment and these rhythms affect sleep and wakefulness.
Your circadian rhythm is the body’s master clock, oversleeping disrupts this regular cycle which is important in sleep patterns. Fatigue, mood changes, lethargy and general drowsiness are common symptoms of an unbalanced circadian rhythm.
Headaches are a really common symptom of oversleeping. Waking headaches are often tension or full blown migraines. Sleeping for a prolonged period also leads to dehydration, which is another cause for headaches. (source)
With the right amount of sleep you will feel refreshed and ready for the next day. Have a bad night’s sleep or too much sleep and you will wake feeling tired.
Fatigue has a negative effect on your health and well being; continually feeling tired wears you down both physically and mentally.
Consistently oversleeping and disturbing your body’s natural clock imbalances the body’s natural rhythm and causes more fatigue. It is a vicious circle that is counterproductive for your health.
According to the ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ in America, heart disease is the number one cause of death; with the most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease.
Studies show that oversleeping is identified with a greater chance of developing coronary heart disease and suffering a stroke, compared to individuals who sleep the recommended 7-8 hours a night. (source)
Studies have shown that oversleeping increases an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Showing the importance of a healthy sleep routine in delaying or preventing the onset of diabetes. (source)
In America, one in three adults are classified as obese. Being overweight leads to many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. (source)
Sleeping too much may increase your weight gain, a 10 year study of women concluded that those who habitually slept for 9 hours or more were at risk of becoming obese, significantly participants aged below 40 years. (source)
Higher Mortality Risk
Oversleeping is linked to a risk of many life limiting diseases it is also linked to a risk of a short lifespan. Sleep fragmentation, fatigue and suppressed immune system are all contributing factors that make researchers state that oversleeping is associated with increased mortality risk. (source)
How to Overcome Oversleeping
A few simple changes could help you overcome your oversleeping and lead a healthy lifestyle where you feel well rested.
Keep a Sleep Routine
We all know routine makes life easier. Our body’s don’t like change from their natural biorhythms and often tell us so – it’s hardly surprising that our bodies develop symptoms indicative of a system out of sync.
Your body needs to sleep at the right time! Going to bed late and expecting to catch up by waking later just doesn’t work, plus, your natural body clock needs exposure to early morning sun. Keeping to a sleep routine will help to program your body to wake up and fall asleep at the same time every day.
Having your bedroom as dark as possible, leaving the television downstairs and banning electronic devices from the bedroom are all helpful ways to make sleeping easier. You can also move the alarm clock out of reach so you can’t hit that snooze button unless you get out of bed.
If you find sticking to a sleep routine difficult, today’s tech savvy society is here to help with a number of apps which can help get your natural rhythm back. The Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock is thought of as one of the best apps for helping you get back into a sleep routine and is available in both Google play and Apple store
Balance Your Circadian Rhythm
Disruption of a balanced circadian rhythm is a serious problem which can cause numerous sleep related conditions such as insomnia.
However, the effects of an abnormal circadian rhythms are not strictly limited to sleep issues, but physical health problems such as obesity (source), and diabetes. As well as a number of mental health issues such as depression and bipolar disorder. (source)
The morning sun is one of the best ways to regulate your circadian rhythm, stop hitting snooze on the alarm clock and change your sleep routine to be in sync with nature’s natural cues. Regulating your body’s internal clock with nature will make you sleepy as the sun sets and help you keep your sleep routine.
You can also try using apps to log your exposure to light and help reset your circadian clock. (source)
Take a Look at Your Mattress
Your sleeping surface could be the reason your oversleeping, is it time to ditch your mattress? If your sleep quality is poor and causing you to oversleep to compensate then it might be time to get a new bed mate.
An uncomfortable sleeping zone will mean when you sleep you don’t go into restful deep sleep. Your body does its self repair during deep sleep is when muscles relax and organs cleanse, detox and re-balance ready for their next 24 hour cycle.
Be careful what you eat and drink. Yes, we’ve all heard it before but avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugary snacks four hours prior to sleep. (source) Seriously, these mess up your sleep pattern – especially your REM cycles, which may result in waking into light sleep many times in the night.
Try alternative drinks which help induce sleep rather than stimulate you to stay awake like chamomile tea. This way you will have no problem in getting to sleep fast and sleeping deeper, it is the quality of sleep that makes you feel rested.
Get Some You Time
If you are under stress, you will have all the effects of elevated cortisol levels (which is the stress hormone) to deal with, and this also causes disruptions in your circadian rhythms. Try taking up meditation, yoga or going for a walk – most importantly, take time out for yourself to relax.
If you’re not a yogi by nature, why not try following a simple beginners yoga video from the comfort of your own home? Yoga is not only a great form of exercise but is also all about relaxation and meditation. A simple video like this one could help give you that all important me time you require:
Getting regular exercise helps promote better sleep quality and makes the body naturally tired. Exercise has a positive effect on mental health as well as physical enhancing your well being.
Moderation tends to be key when it comes to sleep. Routinely sleeping for over nine hours a night leads to an unhealthy life and makes a person at high risk of many health complications.
By oversleeping, you miss out on life and your body’s natural clock does not know what time of day it is – this adds extra imbalance and stresses on your system.
By understanding and listening to your body, you will be able to keep to a regular sleep routine and break your habit of long sleeping.
If you are worried about your oversleeping keep a sleep diary and visit your physician for advice to check there is no underlying health condition causing your long sleeping habit.