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Oversleeping: Can You Get Too Much Sleep?

Some people skimp on sleep and do just fine. They can continue to do what they need throughout the day and sleep without a problem. However, there are a few of us who can’t seem to skimp on sleep at all. You might find that you sleep much more than everyone else around you. Is this normal? 

Although everyone sleeps differently, too much sleep can negatively affect your life. If you have slept more than usual and not know why, it can be problematic. We will look at oversleeping, the causes of oversleeping, and what we can do to reduce our time spent sleeping.

You may need to make lifestyle changes. Otherwise, seeking the opinion of a medical professional is best. See your family doctor and speak to a local sleep specialist. Let them run some tests. They might find out what is affecting you and how to come out on top of oversleeping.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The National Sleep Foundation, a trusted online authority of sleep, recommends the average adult to sleep between 7 to 9 hours. For some adults, they might get away with 6 hours of sleep. For others, 10 hours might be necessary.

Here are their exact guidelines for all age groups on how much sleep is appropriate:

Age GroupRecommendedAppropriate range
Newborns (0-3 months)14-17 hours11-19 hours
Infants (4-11 months)12-15 hours10-18 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years)11-14 hours9-16 hours
Preschoolers (3-5)10-13 hours8-14 hours
School age children (6-13)9-11 hours7-12 hours
Teenagers (14-17)8-10 hours7-11 hours
Young adults (18-25)7-9 hours6-11 hours
Adults (26-64)7-9 hours6-10 hours
Older adults (65+)7-8 hours5-9 hours

What Is Oversleeping?

Oversleeping, also known as hypersomnia, is when an individual sleeps more than their usual amount or more than the average population.

Sleep is a very individualized experience. This means it varies between person to person. If you regularly sleep 9 to 10 hours and wake up feeling well rested, then all is well. But if you sleep just as long and wake up exhausted, it might be time for a check up with the family doctor. Sleeping more and feeling exhausted can mean there might be an underlying health concern that needs to be addressed. 

How Much Sleep Is Too Much Sleep?

Some people may feel well-rested and ready for their day after 6 hours of sleep. Others might need 10 hours. Although the chart above are recommendations or may be appropriate for each age group, it doesn’t mean everyone sleeps the same way.

Is sleeping too much bad? Not necessarily. If you sleep a certain amount and wake up feeling refreshed, then that might be the perfect amount of sleep you need. If you are sick or is ill, you might sleep much more than you normally do. Your diet, physique, stress and age also plays a role.

If you need over 10 hours of sleep and feel fatigue, it might be worth getting the opinion of a medical profession to check for any underlying health condition that might affect you. Feeling exhausted during your day and needing an extra sleeping session or two can also warrant a check up. A physician or sleep specialist should also examine you if there are sudden changes to your sleep patterns, such as sleeping longer than usual or more frequently.

If you find oversleeping consistent, a lifestyle change might be in order.

What Happens When You Sleep Too Much?

Sleeping is a low energy activity. To fall asleep, your body needs to relax and feel tired to do so. Being in an indefinite state of exhaustion isn’t healthy, and can come with side effects. The most common side effects of oversleeping are anxiety and depression, low energy, and memory problems.

As oversleeping becomes prevalent, other health risks associated with it include:

  • headaches
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • back pain
  • depression
  • heart disease
  • increased risk of death

What does this look like for your daily activities? Here are some examples of the challenges you might face day-to-day:

  • excessive worrying throughout the day
  • feelings of numbness and inability to feel joy or happiness
  • unable to attend social gatherings or keep up in social conversations at work, with friends and family
  • early onset of exhaustion after waking up and inability to do daily tasks
  • excessive and impulsive eating, and weight gain
  • trouble thinking clearly and brain fog
  • trouble sitting, standing and picking stuff up from the floor because of back pain
  • increase in forgetfulness and misplacement of keys, wallets, and other personal effects
  • increase risk of car accidents and uncontrollable microsleeps behind the wheel
  • increase risk of injury when operating heavy equipment

Oversleeping can be detrimental in nearly all aspects to our life. It negatively affects our health and well-being mentally, emotionally and physically. Speaking with your family doctor is the first step to addressing oversleeping if the symptoms seem familiar to you.

What Can Cause Oversleeping?

There are several underlying health conditions that might cause a person to feel exhausted during the day and the need to sleep more than usual. Speaking to a medical professional is important to diagnose any health conditions affecting you. Here is a short list of health conditions that might cause oversleeping:

  • hypersomnia
  • sleep apnea
  • depression
  • delayed sleep phase disorder
  • thyroid issues
  • heart disease
  • narcolepsy
  • certain medications as a side effect

How to Find Out If You Are Oversleeping

Oversleeping might feel obvious if you are doing it. To help you and your physician diagnose your condition and get you the help you need, there are steps you can take to understand your sleep condition:

  1. Rating yourself on the Epworth Sleepiness ScaleA widely accepted test used in sleep medicine. The goal of the test is to subjectively measure your sleepiness. There are 8 questions, giving you a series of scenarios and asking for your judgement on your likelihood of falling asleep in each. Take this test then hand off your answers to your family doctor and sleep specialist for their review.
  2. Log your sleep in a sleep diary: We want to know how much you sleep, how often you fall asleep during the day, and how you feel after waking up. Rating how well you sleep each time on a scale of 1 to 10 will be a useful insight. You can bring your sleep diary log to your family doctor and sleep specialist for their review.
  3. Booking a polysomnogram at a sleep clinic: Also known as a sleep study, a polysomnogram can help diagnose sleep disorders. You would spend a night sleeping at the clinic with sensors connected to your body. These sensors are then connected to a machine that track physiological changes throughout your body, such as your brain waves, oxygen level in your blood, heart rate, breathing, and eye and leg movements. A sleep specialist can then review the results and produce a sleep study report for you.
  4. Taking multiple sleep latency tests: This test measures how quickly you fall asleep, and is done after a polysomnogram, It can take a full-day, with 4 or 5 scheduled naps separated by two-hour breaks. The same polysomnogram sensors are placed along your body to transmit data and track physiological changes.

Knowing where you are with your sleep health is important. These 4 steps can provide insights for medical professionals to diagnose any possible underlying health condition that might cause oversleeping. They can also help you understand what is going on in your body so you can take measures to improve your oversleeping condition.

7 Sleep Tips to Reduce Oversleeping 

It can be frustrating to overcome the challenges of oversleeping. Sometimes, it’s outside of our control. Other times, we might unintentionally sabotaging our sleep. Practicing good sleep hygiene can make sleeping too much less likely and sleep more productive. Here are 7 tips to help improve your quality of sleep:

1. Stick To A Consistent Sleep Schedule, Even On The Weekends

A consistent sleep schedule can train your body and brain to feel drowsy when it’s time for bed. Pick a time that‘s appropriate for you and make a commitment to stick to it. You can also gradually reduce your sleep hours over several weeks. Avoid sleep or naps during the day. And stick to the same sleep schedule even during the weekends!

2. Set Yourself Up For Success With The Right Sleep Environment Conditions

An ideal bedroom is cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable. Lower your bedroom temperature with air condition, take a hot shower before bedtime, use blackout curtains if you must, and drown out disruptive noise with a white noise machines. Do this right and your sleep environment can be conducive to a good night’s rest.

3. Put Away Your Devices Earlier Than Usual

You should put away your smartphones and laptops at least one hour before bedtime. The sooner before bedtime, the better! The blue light emitted from monitors and devices can increase alertness and reduce drowsiness. Pings, vibrations, alarms, and other notifications from your devices can also make sleep difficult. Keep them to a minimal, change your settings, and place your devices as far away from your bed as possible. Ideally, outside your bedroom. 

4. Watch What You Eat And Drink

There are three big culprit substances that negatively affect sleep: caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that increase alertness and can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol is a depressant that causes drowsiness, but negatively affects your quality of sleep. This means waking up feeling groggy and unrested! 

Certain types of food can also cause pain and reflux, disrupting your sleep. Eat only a light meal in the evening and do so at least two hours before sleeping. This will give your body enough time to avoid digestion problems that can keep you up. 

5. Maintain A Sleep Diary

This point ties back to the section on finding out how much sleep you need. Keeping a running log on your sleep can help you identify patterns and make adjustments to improve your sleep. You will want to know when you fall asleep and wake up, how often you do it each day, and how you feel afterwards. The sleep diary can also serve as useful diagnostic insights for when you visit the doctor.

6. Make It A Goal To Get Physically Active Each Day

You might have heard this point often, but it‘s an important one: physically exerting yourself can help you sleep better at night. It can also keep you alert when you are feeling drowsy during the day. Get some fresh air, exercise for 15 minutes a day, and celebrate your physical health. Exercise can be as simple as a 15-minute brisk walk outdoor or a brief yoga session.

7. Practice A Relaxing Bedtime Routine

When it’s time to sleep, sometimes it can be difficult for you to relax after a day of stress. You can feel drowsy, but if you have hundreds of thoughts racing through your mind, falling asleep can be tough. A helpful bedtime routine can put you at ease and remind yourself it’s time for sleep. You can read, write, plan your next day, or take a pleasant bath. If you are having trouble following a bedtime routine, create a checklist you can go over every time you go to sleep.

Conclusion

Sleep is a very individual experience. Some people need only 6 hours of sleep to feel well-rested. Others might need 10 hours. Oversleeping can become a problem when it affects our lives.

It’s difficult to attend social gatherings, get work done, or enjoy our life when we constantly feel fatigue and the need to sleep. Understanding how oversleeping works and getting the proper medical care can help you find the underlying health condition that is causing it. We hope this guide helps you with oversleeping.

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