Can’t stop oversleeping? We all have those days sometimes, where we keep snoozing the alarm to get that extra 10 minutes of sleep. However, if this is more of a regular occurrence for you, it may be less of a lie-in treat and more of a bad habit or even a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
What does oversleeping mean?
Oversleeping is when someone struggles to wake up to their alarm each morning and therefore sleeps in, longer than their intended wake-up time. They often get too much sleep and this can have negative impacts on health and wellbeing such as an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Oversleeping often leaves people feeling very tired throughout the day, even after a nap.
What are the symptoms of oversleeping?
Weight gain, headaches, back pain, depression and fatigue are all symptoms of getting too much sleep. If you don’t make healthy changes to your lifestyle or seek medical advice, these symptoms could turn to long term effects. Long term health implications could include impaired fertility and cognitive deterioration.
Why do I keep oversleeping?
Oversleeping often isn’t the result of laziness. There are many factors which may be contributing to an oversleeping problem. You may be oversleeping because you are sleeping too much or even too little. Or it might be the symptom of a sleeping disorder or another medical condition.
We spoke to Stella Samuel, a Sleep Psychologist, who discussed some of the causes of oversleeping. She said “some of the diseases that can cause oversleeping are depression, heart disease, narcolepsy and sleep apnea. If you have oversleeping behaviour, consult a physician rather than just thinking it’s normal.” Once a medical professional can determine the cause of your oversleeping behaviour, they determine the correct car, prescribe medications and put together a plan to combat your sleeping difficulties.
Stella also told us that “oversleeping isn’t good for the health of a human. Some of the possible side effects that are a result of oversleeping are acquiring heart diseases, obesity and becoming diabetic.” These possible side effects are mostly found when people don’t seek advice and guidance from their doctor or ignore their symptoms. If you suspect you are oversleeping, it is best to book an appointment with your local GP.
How much sleep is too much?
Is getting 12 hours of sleep normal? Well, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night whereas teenagers and children require much more. Newborns often sleep for up to 17 hours and teenagers up to 10 hours. If you are getting the recommended sleep allowance for your age but are still having trouble oversleeping, you may have a sleep disorder such as hypersomnia or sleep apnea.
Oversleeping and sleep disorders
Hypersomnia is where people suffer from extreme sleepiness during the day and often sleep for unusual amounts of time at night.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder which causes people to stop breathing at different moments throughout the night, leaving them to feel exhausted during the day.
Oversleeping has also been linked to depression and the usage of certain substances such as alcohol and some prescription medications. If you feel that you may have a sleep disorder, you should seek medical advice from your local GP or a sleep consultant.
What can you do to stop oversleeping?
There are many self-care techniques out there to help you combat oversleeping. If you have tried them all but nothing is working, it may be best to get some expert advice from a medical professional.
1. Change your alarm habits and resist hitting the snooze button
Improving the relationship between yourself and your alarm clock, or getting rid of your clock altogether, could be a big help with oversleeping. Allowing yourself to wake up naturally rather than being ripped out of your sleep has been shown to be the best way to wake up in the morning. If you are one of those people who desperately need an alarm clock in their life, try using one with gradual wake up sounds. As soon as your alarm goes off in the morning, or as soon as you naturally wake up, it is important to get out of bed straight away to avoid the temptation of falling back to sleep. If you use an alarm clock, putting it on the other side of the room can help.
2. Avoid sleeping in on weekends, even when you really want to
Waking up at the same time each day and going to sleep at the same time each night will allow your body to get into a sleep/wake cycle. This daily pattern takes some time to get your body used to, but it can be of great benefit in the long run. There are many apps and alarm clocks that have the option to set a bedtime reminder as well as a morning alarm. Creating a sleep schedule and sticking to it will have you stopping oversleeping in no time, even on the weekends.
3. Dodge the urge to take a nap
Taking naps in the day, especially if you don’t need them, can lead to you feeling overtired. You could also be getting too much sleep. Naturally, our bodies circadian rhythm cycle includes 7-9 hours sleep followed by 15 to 17 hours of full wakefulness. So, in other words, no naps.
4. Create a relaxing night-time routine
Having a relaxing evening and doing calming actives before bed can ensure you get better quality sleep meaning it will be easier to wake up in the morning. Here are some examples of techniques to help set you up for a solid night’s rest:
- Sleep meditation
- ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) sleep videos and sounds
- Drinking caffeine-free herbal teas
- Having warm baths or showers
- Set sleep reminders
- Go to bed at the same time each night
- Avoid alcohol
5. Keep a sleep diary
Recording each night’s sleep in a journal will enable you to keep track of whether you are getting enough sleep or not. It can also help you to determine factors that affect your sleep. Taking notes of noise levels, sleep positions or even what you ate and drank before bed may allow you to notice patterns and habits in your routine and how they impact your sleep.
6. Improve your morning routine & day-to-day habits
Changing your alarm sound, deleting the snooze option, getting up at the same time each day and getting out of bed soon after you wake up are all things you can do in the morning to stop you oversleeping. Exercising more, eating earlier in the evening, avoiding naps and not having any ‘nightcaps’ are just some of the many ways to improve your lifestyle to get a healthy night’s sleep. Most of the time, poor habits and routines often leave us struggling to fall asleep at night. Making small gradual changes can make a big difference to our night-time rest.
7. Avoid blue light before bed
It’s fine to read before bed, but it’s best to avoid the use of phones, tablets and eBooks. Avoiding blue light from your electronic devices as well as distractions from your mobile notifications will allow you to ease into a deep sleep more easily. Blue light emitted from electronic screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin as well as increasing our bodies alertness, resulting in a struggle to fall asleep.
8. Create an ideal sleeping environment
If your room is too hot, too cold or there is artificial light and distracting noises in your bedroom, you are most likely going to struggle to fall asleep. Keeping your room cool, quiet and dark can enhance sleep leaving you to feel more refreshed each morning.
9. Don’t overthink it
It’s important to try to keep on track and in control of your day-to-day routine in order to improve your sleep. However, worrying and overthinking will only keep you up at night. Implement change gradually and allow yourself time to get used to new things. Try not to get too frustrated with yourself if something isn’t working right away. If everything you have tried doesn’t work, it may be best to seek help and advice from a medical professional.
Fun facts about sleep
What is the longest time a person has slept?
The longest time someone has ever slept on record is 8 days. Peter Powers, a famous hypnotist, had his successful hypnotic sleep record televised live in the UK and Europe.
What is the longest time a person has stayed awake?
The longest time someone has gone without sleep on record is 11 days. Randy Gardner currently holds this record and has held it since 1964.