Are you prone to waking up in the morning and reaching for that snooze button? You’ve likely heard the phrase, “too much of a good thing,” and it turns out this principle also applies to your bedtime.
Research shows us that sleeping is vital for brain function, memory, and physical health. This is a time for our minds to process all the information and stimuli from the day, and it’s when our bodies repair, grow and heal.
So, wouldn’t it make sense that the more we sleep, the better health we’ll experience? On the contrary, the effects of oversleeping may do more harm than good.
What is Oversleeping?
Sleeping too much is dependent upon your age, lifestyle, and health. Although consistently resting for 10 hours a night would be considered acceptable for a teenager, this could be problematic for a healthy adult. To first determine whether you’re oversleeping, you need to review the recommendations for every age.
In the event you notice that you’re sleeping more than the suggested amount for your age group, this could be a sign of an underlying condition. Additionally, certain lifestyle or environmental factors could be behind your need for more shut-eye.
Excessive sleeping could also cause significant physical and mental health problems that you should be aware of. The good news is that by closely examining your sleep habits, you’re in a better position to improve your overall well-being in the process.
What Causes Excessive Sleeping?
Some folks may need extra sleep because their rest gets disrupted during the night. Conversely, other conditions may not disrupt sleep but rather directly increase the amount of rest you need.
People who have Hypersomnia may experience Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) or extended sleep at night. However, these patients don’t just feel tired; they risk falling asleep at inappropriate moments throughout the day, like eating or talking.
In most cases, those who experience Hypersomnia don’t feel relief after a nap and have difficulty waking up from prolonged sleep periods.
Hypersomnias are classified into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary hypersomnia is usually the direct cause of extra sleepiness, while secondary ones are the result of another condition. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Idiopathic Hypersomnia and Narcolepsy are two primary hypersomnias that could cause you to oversleep.
- Idiopathic Hypersomnia
This type of hypersomnia is described as a condition in which a person feels extreme tiredness, but the cause is unknown. That being said, experts believe Idiopathic Hypersomnia could be due to a brain abnormality, infection, or brain damage. Patients with this diagnosis often sleep upwards of 10 hours or more a day.
Narcolepsy is a chronic condition that is estimated to affect between 135,000 and
200,000 Americans and is often misdiagnosed as other health problems. It is a neurological disorder that impacts the brain’s ability to control a person’s sleep-wake cycles. People with Narcolepsy may also experience muscle weakness, sleep paralysis, and hallucinations.
Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome
Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) is a sleep disorder in which a person’s circadian rhythm – or biological clock – causes them to fall asleep later, often into the wee hours of the morning. This can lead to trouble waking up if you have an early commitment the following day or sleeping in later.
People with this syndrome usually go to bed about two hours later than their appropriate bedtime, which means if you’re a student who should be going to bed by 10:00 pm, you’re likely not falling asleep until at least Midnight. Although DSPS can emerge during childhood, it typically develops or worsens during adolescence.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea and, if left untreated, could become dangerous. This disorder causes breathing to repeatedly start and stop while a person is asleep.
With OSA, a person’s throat muscles will periodically relax, blocking the airway. Eventually, your brain will realize it’s not getting enough oxygen, which can cause you to gasp for air. Other symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea include loud snoring, dry mouth, a sore throat, morning headaches, difficulty focusing during the day, mood changes, night sweats, high blood pressure, and low libido.
OSA may also lead to more serious complications include daytime fatigue, cardiovascular issues, medication and surgery problems, certain eye conditions, and sleep deprivation for your partner.
For some, ending the day with a glass of wine might seem like a great way to relax before bed, especially considering alcohol is a sedative. That doesn’t mean you should, though. Alcohol can make you feel tired, but it may also cause you to have more disrupted sleep.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, alcohol can decrease your amount of deep sleep, keeping you in lighter sleep stages and more vulnerable to waking up throughout the night. They add that alcohol could increase your risk of sleep apnea, sleepwalking and parasomnias, and vivid dreams and nightmares.
Read More: Alcohol and Sleep
Certain medications can also cause you to feel more tired than normal, and drowsiness is one of the most frequently reported side effects.
Medications known to induce sleepiness include antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-emetics, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, drugs to treat high blood pressure, benzodiazepines and other sedatives, medications for Parkinson’s disease, muscle relaxants, opioids, and other prescription pain medications. Over-the-counter medicines may also make you sleepy, such as those used to help treat insomnia, allergies, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
It’s always a good idea to be aware of any possible side effects of medications so that you can avoid taking them at a time when you need to be alert. Additionally, you should consult with your doctor if you have concerns.
Though many of us need to catch up on rest from time to time, frequent oversleeping could be a sign of depression. It’s reported that about 15 percent of those with depression oversleep and that resting too much is more prevalent in atypical depression.
With this form of depression, a person’s mood can improve after a positive event, but the uplifting feeling is only temporary. People dealing with atypical depression often aren’t aware they’re depressed.
In addition to oversleeping, they may be more emotionally sensitive and have an increased appetite. Health experts add that sleep is often seen as a way to escape from negative thoughts and feelings.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Those who live in colder, grayer climates have likely heard of the term Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a form of depression linked to changes in the seasons – typically emerging in the fall and winter and improving during spring and summer.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include sluggishness, feeling agitated and depressed, low energy, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating, feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts of death or suicide. Oversleeping is more common during the winter months, while insomnia is more likely to occur for someone who experiences this disorder in the spring and summer.
Physical Side Effects
Diabetes is a health condition that affects your blood sugar – or glucose – which is a source of energy for cells in your muscles, tissues, and brain. Your body produces insulin to help manage your blood sugar levels, but diabetes can impact this process, causing a surplus of sugar in the blood, which can then lead to serious health complications.
Those with long-term diabetes have either Type 1 or Type 2. Type 1 typically develops during childhood, while Type 2 tends to occur in people over 40.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, oversleeping could increase your likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes. A 2019 study reported that sleep disorders linked to oversleeping could also make you insulin resistant and thus more vulnerable to the effects of diabetes.
Get More Info: The Link Between Sleep and Diabetes
While there’s been some research linking sleep deprivation to weight gain, other evidence shows a correlation between excessive sleep and a higher body mass index (BMI). Additional fatigue would likely make you less inclined to be active or not have enough energy to prepare healthy meals at home.
As mentioned, oversleeping could be symptomatic of depression, and research shows that depression also has ties to weight gain. A 2009 study found that obese persons were five times more likely to gain weight due to overeating during depressive episodes. Learn more about the connection between obesity and sleep here.
Resting too much can also trigger headaches. According to the American Migraine Foundation, people living with migraines are 2-8 times more likely to develop a sleep disorder.
There’s a reason why sleep and headaches are closely linked; The same parts and chemicals of the brain that affect sleep also affect headaches and mood, which means inadequate sleep increases your risk of developing a headache.
Three types of headaches are linked to sleep: Wake-up, Hypnic, and Cluster.
The morning is the most common time for headaches and migraines to occur. This is because either pain medication wears off during the night, or your headache develops while you’re asleep and you’re not able to take any medication right away.
Hypnic headaches are a rare disorder in which someone experiences recurring headaches that only happen while they’re asleep. These headaches can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours and cause a person to wake up in the middle of the night, giving them the nickname “alarm clock headaches.”
Cluster headaches typically develop about an hour after a person falls asleep, with the most extreme pain centered near one eye. These can last 20 minutes to 3 hours. Other symptoms of cluster headaches include a droopy eyelid, eye redness or tearing, and a runny or stuffy nostril on the side where the pain is located.
Too much time on an unsupportive bed could lead to more pain in sensitive areas like your back, neck, and shoulders. Many top-quality beds are built with strong support systems in mind because evidence shows that a good sleeping posture helps keep back pain at bay. When you’re shopping for a new mattress, you want to make sure it’s designed to help keep your spine in a healthy, neutral position as this is going to be the most beneficial for back pain.
Good quality pillows should help this process as well by keeping your neck well supported so that it flows with the natural curve of your spine.
If you’re looking for more mattress options, check out our Best Mattresses of 2023.
Getting the right amount of sleep is also important for your heart health. According to research, both sleep deprivation and oversleeping are linked to an increased risk of fatal cardiovascular disease. Some of the causes and effects of oversleeping that we’ve covered are also linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
These include obesity and weight gain, diabetes, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and high amounts of alcohol use. Furthermore, Heart Disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC.
Experiencing a stroke is another possible effect of getting too much shut-eye. Research from 2019 found that people who reported sleeping for 9 or more hours a night were 23 percent more likely to have a stroke compared to those who rested for less than 8 hours. They also found that stroke risk was 25 percent higher among those who took afternoon naps for a least 90 minutes compared to those who only napped for 30 minutes.
While they found no conclusive evidence that extra sleep caused strokes, the association between sleeping more and an increased stroke risk is concerning. Other stroke risk factors associated with oversleeping include an inactive lifestyle, sleep apnea, and depression.
Inflammation is how your body’s immune system responds to an irritant, such as germs, chemicals, or foreign objects. You will notice this when a wound swells or becomes red, though inflammation isn’t always visible. Inflammation may also lead to chronic diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
When your body experiences inflammation, your C-reactive protein level (CRP) increases, and a 2007 study found that a longer sleep duration among female subjects showed higher levels of the C-reactive protein.
The body’s natural sleep-wake cycle is also known as the circadian rhythm. The reproductive hormones associated with fertility also run on an internal clock, which could be disrupted by irregular sleep patterns.
Thus far, research has shown a link between shift work and a higher risk of infertility in women. Female shift workers also reported more irregular and painful menstruation cycles.
While more studies need to be done, researchers feel that treating sleep disorders could potentially help improve fertility or, at the very least, improve the overall well-being of women struggling with infertility.
Get More Info: Sleep and Fertility – Are They Related
The most serious risk associated with oversleeping, though, is death. This may sound extreme, but research points to a connection between prolonged sleep and an increased risk of mortality, with longer rest being more of a risk factor than sleep deprivation. That being said, the scientists emphasize that it’s not the sleep itself that’s dangerous, but the other serious conditions connected to it that could cause death, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Mental Side Effects
Though depression may cause oversleeping, too much sleep can also worsen depression symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This is because oversleeping may cause someone to feel unproductive or behind in life, amplifying those negative feelings associated with depression.
It’s important to be mindful of the signs of depression and take action if you notice symptoms worsening over time. In addition to oversleeping, symptoms to look for include insomnia, irritability, loss of interest, reduced or increased appetite, lack of energy, anxiety, slower thinking or body movements, trouble concentrating or remembering things, suicidal thoughts, or unexplained physical problems.
According to health experts, occasional anxiety is normal, but those with an anxiety disorder can feel this way regularly, with symptoms possibly intensifying over time. Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand, so, understandably, people who oversleep may also develop feelings of anxiety. For example, feeling unproductive from oversleeping could also exacerbate anxiety and stress.
Other signs of an anxiety disorder include feeling restless, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, trouble managing worries, and difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Find Out More: How Does Anxiety Target Your Sleep
Have you ever overslept, only to wake up more tired? When you oversleep, this can throw off your body’s sleep-wake cycle, which could cause you not to feel refreshed. There’s also the possibility you woke up in the wrong sleep cycle.
While resting, we go through three stages of lighter-REM sleep and one stage of REM sleep. This entire cycle is repeated several times throughout the night. By oversleeping, you could increase the chance of waking up in one of the REM deep sleep cycles, which could make you feel dazed.
According to scientists, the period between sleep and wakefulness when you feel groggy and disoriented is sleep inertia. However, those who sleep too much may experience more confusion and tiredness upon waking up. This is referred to as sleep drunkenness or confusional arousals, a parasomnia typically accompanied by symptoms such as slow speech, confusion, poor memory, and dull responses to questions or requests. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that confusional arousals are more common in children than adults.
While sleep deprivation is known to negatively impact a person’s memory, too much rest is just as bad. According to a 2014 study, female participants who slept 5 hours or less or 9 or more hours a night tested worse for brain performance than those who regularly slept for 7-8 hours. They found that inadequate sleep duration could impair memory and thinking and that the women who slept too much or too little were mentally aged two years older.
Even though people who oversleep may have a longer sleep duration, they may still experience disrupted sleep. Health experts with the University of Chicago report that disrupted sleep was worse for cognitive decline.
How to Prevent Oversleeping
Food is essential for fueling our bodies and provides us with important nutrients. Some of your favorite foods may taste delicious, but if they lack vital nutrients, you’re not going to get the energy you need from them. Not only should a nutritious diet give you more energy, but it can also help keep you at a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing conditions linked to oversleeping, such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and stroke.
This dietary guide from the Centers for Disease Control can help provide you with additional information on healthy meal options.
Avoid Alcohol Intake
We covered earlier that alcohol could cause oversleeping by reducing your amount of deep sleep, leaving you more susceptible to waking up during the night. With that in mind, the next logical step would be to cut back on your alcohol intake or remove it from your lifestyle altogether.
Avoiding alcohol has additional benefits as well. The CDC reports that alcohol is linked to long-term health risks such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, cancer, a weakened immune system, learning and memory issues, depression, anxiety, social problems, and alcohol dependence. 03
Leading an active lifestyle is also excellent for your sleep health. Researchers have found that exercise increases the amount of slow wave – or deep – sleep that you get. Daily exercise can also help boost your mood and relax your mind, both of which should help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
It’s worth noting, though, that working out too late in the evening could keep you up later since exercise gives you endorphins, so if you struggle to fall asleep, try to work out earlier in the day.
Sunlight provides your body with serotonin, a hormone that improves your mood, which should minimize symptoms of depression and help you sleep better. So, if you’re struggling with oversleeping from depression, do your best to get consistent sunlight exposure and see if it improves both your sleep quality and mental health.
As mentioned, Seasonal Affective Disorder may cause someone to oversleep. During colder seasons, people’s serotonin levels drop because they get less exposure to sunlight than in warmer months.
Rather than packing up your belongings and moving to a sunnier state, consider trying phototherapy. This form of treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder uses a light-box that replicates daylight. It’s reported that at least 30 minutes of ligh therapy can increase serotonin levels.
Check Out Our Guide: Top Rated Light Therapy Lamp05
Regular Bedtime and Wake Time
Maintaining a steady sleep schedule should also help prevent excessive sleeping. By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day – including weekends – you’re training your body to follow a sleep-wake schedule, which should make it easier to fall asleep on time and not oversleep the following day.
While this may be more difficult on weekends, do your best not to adjust your bedtime or wake-up time by more than an hour.06
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that caffeine consumption 6 hours before bedtime can disrupt sleep. Many folks need a cup of coffee or tea in the morning to wake up, but with this information in mind, try to avoid any additional caffeine intake in the late afternoon or evening. So, if your regular bedtime is 9:00 pm, your caffeine cutoff time should be 3:00 pm.07
For those with a habit of oversleeping, an alarm clock is a must. There may come a day when you can naturally wake up on time, but for now, an alarm can help set your internal clock and get you on a healthier sleep schedule.
To prevent hitting the snooze button and falling back asleep, try placing your alarm clock across the room so that you have to physically get out of bed to turn it off.
Read More: Best Alarm Clocks for Heavy Sleepers08
Set Your Bedroom Right
Your sleep space also plays a major role in how well you sleep.
Firstly, review your mattress. An unsupportive bed can make it difficult to achieve quality rest at night, which could cause you to crave more sleep come morning. There are many high-value beds available that are built with specific design features for different types of sleepers to achieve the best rest possible.
Keeping your bedroom cool should also help prevent you from waking up because you feel too hot. For adults, the ideal temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit and between 66 and 70 for older adults.
Lastly, put the electronics away. While it may sound appealing to watch television in bed or look at your phone or tablet, these can make it harder to get shut-eye. Not only do these electronics keep your mind alert, but the blue light emitted from tech devices such as smartphones can suppress the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is too much sleep bad for you?
The consensus among health experts is that an abundance of sleep is just as unhealthy as not enough rest. Many of the symptoms associated with oversleeping are similar to the ones linked to sleep deprivation.
Is 10 hours of sleep too much?
How long you should sleep is dependent upon your age and individual health circumstances. 10 hours a night can be a healthy duration for children and teens, but for adults, experts with Johns Hopkins Medicine suggest a minimum of 7 hours a night and that regularly sleeping more than 9 hours is considered too much sleep.
What are the symptoms of oversleeping?
The potential physical repercussions of oversleeping include diabetes, obesity, headaches, increased pain, heart disease, stroke, inflammation, impaired fertility, and early death. Additionally, too much sleep could lead to adverse mental effects such as depression, anxiety, sleep hangovers and confusional arousals, and impaired cognitive abilities and memory.
Is there a cure for this problem?
The best way to combat oversleeping is by forming good sleep habits and creating positive lifestyle changes. You can reference the aforementioned suggestions for better sleep to help get you started and discover what works best for you. In the event you do not notice a difference after implementing these habits regularly, you should consult with your physician.
Read More: 4 Bad Sleeping Habits to Break Immediately
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Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.