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Too much sleep? Here are some surprising facts about oversleeping

Person in bed reaching towards an alarm clock

Most people know that getting enough sleep is essential for good health. But what about getting too much sleep? Is oversleeping a thing?

 

The answer is yes, it is possible to get too much sleep. While sleep deprivation gets all the press, oversleeping can also be a problem. The ideal amount of sleep varies from person to person, but most experts agree adults should get 7-9 hours a night. 

 

Guidelines on how much sleep is typical for your age group:

 

  • Newborns: 14-17 hours (including naps)

  • Infants: 12-15 hours (including naps)

  • Toddlers: 11-14 hours (including naps)

  • Preschoolers: 10-13 hours (including naps)

  • School-aged children: 9-11 hours

  • Teenagers: 8-10 hours

  • Adults: 7-9 hours

  • Older adults: 7-8 hours

 

For the average adult, 7-9 hours of sleep is a fair general guideline. Getting more than 9 hours of sleep on a regular basis can lead to an increased risk of a number of health problems.

Risks of too much sleep

Weight gain: People who get too much sleep are more likely to be overweight or obese. Oversleep can result in alterations in hunger hormones, potentially causing individuals to feel more famished and consume more food. Weight gain can in turn increase the risk of diabetes.

Heart disease: Too much sleep has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, even in people who are otherwise healthy. It is not yet known why this connection exists.

Stroke: Long sleepers have an increased risk of stroke, thanks to an increase in blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke.

Depression: Too much sleep has been linked to an increased risk of depression. Excessive sleep can disrupt the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is involved in mood regulation.

Accidents: People who get too much sleep are more likely to be involved in accidents, both at home and at work. Just as sleep deprivation can impair coordination, reaction time, and decision-making, so can oversleeping. 

Why might someone oversleep?

There are several reasons someone might sleep more than what's recommended. These include:

 

Sleep disorders: Conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome can lead to fragmented sleep, causing you to extend sleep time to feel rested.

Mental health issues: Depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions can lead to changes in sleep patterns, including oversleeping.

Medications: Certain medications can increase sleepiness and lead to excessive sleep.

Lifestyle: Lack of a regular sleep schedule, alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to oversleeping.

Underlying health conditions: Hypothyroidism, heart disease and other chronic illnesses can lead you to sleeping longer than usual. 

Here are some red flags to watch out for:
  • Feeling groggy and unrefreshed even after a long sleep: No, hitting the snooze button repeatedly doesn't count as quality sleep. Waking up feeling foggy and sluggish despite getting your "beauty rest" could be a sign of oversleeping.

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue and sluggishness: Irony alert! Oversleeping can actually make you feel tired throughout the day. This is because prolonged sleep disrupts your natural sleep-wake cycle, leaving you feeling out of sync.

  • Headaches and muscle aches: Oversleeping can disrupt your body's natural rhythms, leading to headaches and muscle aches.

  • Mood swings and irritability: Feeling irritable and easily frustrated? Oversleeping can affect your mood just as much as sleep deprivation.

  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering things: Oversleeping can impair cognitive function, making it harder to focus and remember information.

  • Feeling the need to nap during the day: You may feel as though you just can't get enough sleep, or enough restorative sleep, at night. 

8 savvy sleep habits

So, how do you strike the perfect balance and avoid the pitfalls of oversleeping? Here are 8 sleep habits to provide you with more consistent and better-quality rest:

 

  1. Establish regular sleep and wake times. Aim to sleep and rise at the same hours daily, including weekends. This aids in maintaining your body's innate sleep-wake rhythm.

  2. To prepare for sleep, establish a calming routine. This can involve activities such as reading, taking a warm bath or listening to calming music. Dedicate at least an hour to these activities to help relax your mind and body before sleep.

  3. Avoid screens and bright lights, as they can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

  4. Create a conducive sleep environment in your bedroom. Make sure your bedroom is dim, peaceful, cool and cozy. Consider investing in darkening curtains, noise-cancelling earplugs and a high-quality mattress.

  5. Get more active early in the day. Regular exercise improves sleep quality, but avoid intense workouts close to bedtime.

  6. Limit caffeine and alcohol. These substances can disrupt sleep, so avoid them in the afternoon and evening.

  7. Expose yourself to sunlight. Get outside for a while during the day to soak up some sunshine. This helps regulate your circadian rhythm and encourages good sleep.

  8. Seek professional help if needed. If you're struggling to get enough sleep or suspect an underlying sleep disorder, consult a primary care provider or sleep disorder specialist.

 

Above all else, listen to how you feel after different amounts of sleep. If you're feeling your best after 7 hours, aim for that amount daily. If you feel better at 9 hours, that's OK, too. The key is to find what works for you and prioritize regular, restorative sleep.

When to seek help

If you're consistently oversleeping and experiencing negative consequences, it's important to talk to your primary care doctor. Oversleeping can be a symptom of various underlying medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, thyroid disorders and sleep apnea. Your primary care physician can give you some advice and tools to encourage better sleep. They can also refer you to a qualified sleep specialist if new habits and lifestyle changes don't work.

 

If you're looking for a primary care provider who will meet your needs and preferences, use our online search to find a BJC Medical Group doctor or nurse practitioner near you who is taking new patients.

 

Find a Primary Care Provider

 

Remember, the key to a healthy sleep life is finding the balance that works for you. Listen to your body's cues, prioritize quality sleep hygiene, and don't hesitate to seek professional help if needed.

 

Daylight Saving Time

Adjusting the clock forward in the spring and back one hour in the fall affects people differently. Read more about not losing sleep over the daylight saving time change.

ABOUT PRIMARY CARE
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