Fantasize a morning where you just can’t let go of your blanket’s cozy embrace, thinking that the world outside can wait just a little bit longer. Sleeping in too much might make you falsely believe that you will be relaxed. The truth is that oversleeping messes up your health in several ways.
Research from Harvard Medical School found that changing sleep patterns can make you feel extra tired during the day.
There are several causes of oversleeping, ranging from lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption or hectic schedules to certain medical conditions such as sleep disorders.
Read on to learn about the causes and effects of oversleeping. We will also guide you on the strategies to overcome the harmful effects of oversleeping.
What Counts as Too Much Sleep
There is a delicate balance between the right amount of sleep and oversleeping. Optimal sleep gives you the rest and energy required to continue the day. The optimal length of sleep varies for each individual according to age, lifestyle, and health condition. Oversleeping tends to surpass optimal sleep duration and disturbs your body’s rhythm, causing health issues.
To avoid daytime drowsiness and health problems like heart disease and diabetes, you need to find the sweet spot between optimal sleep and oversleeping. The optimal length nap and nighttime sleep will give you several benefits, such as enhancing your mood and memory and keeping hormone levels in check.
To find your personalized optimal sleep duration, you must learn to listen to your body and observe how you feel during the day after a different sleep schedule. Establishing a consistent nighttime sleep and daytime nap schedule is highly recommended to ensure you wake up feeling refreshed.
Optimal Sleep Duration by Age
- Babies between 0 to 3 months need around 14 to 17 hours of sleep.
- Infants from 4 to 11 months old require about 12 to 16 hours of sleep.
- Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2 years old need about 11 to 14 hours of sleep.
- Preschoolers of 3 to 5 years old require around 10 to 13 hours of sleep.
- School-aged children between 6 and 13 years old need approximately 9 to 12 hours of sleep.
- For teenagers 14 to 17 years old, the recommended amount of sleep is 8 to 10 hours.
- Young adults between 18 and 25 years old need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
- Adults between 26 and 64 years old require around 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
- Older adults 65 years and older need around 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
What Causes Oversleeping
Several factors related to your lifestyle and medical conditions could pull you into oversleeping. Finding the reason behind your oversleeping helps address the problem. Here is what usually contributes to oversleeping.
Medical Factors for Oversleeping:
- Sleep Disorders: Conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, and narcolepsy can significantly disrupt your sleep, making you take a prolonged slumber to catch up with the lost sleep.
- Health Disorders: certain medical conditions contribute to oversleeping, including neurological, psychological, cardiac, and pulmonary disorders. Diabetes and Hypothyroidism also lead to excessive sleep.
- Chronic Pain: Chronic pain resulting from arthritis and fibromyalgia make you restless through the night, leading to prolonged sleep.
- Mental Health: Research published on Science Direct shows that disturbed sleep patterns are associated with mental health disorders including depression and anxiety.
- Medications: Some medications used to treat some health conditions have drowsiness as a side effect, leading to oversleeping.
Lifestyle Factors for Oversleeping:
- Sleep Habits: You might get insufficient sleep frequently due to a hectic schedule or poor sleep hygiene, which leads to sleeping more than required.
- Work and Social Life: Working in shifts, undue pressure of studies, and an active social life majorly contribute towards a wobbling sleep balance.
- Health Choices: Factors like alcohol use, increased BMI, neck circumference, and lifestyle choices like an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can contribute to excessive sleepiness.
The Role of Sleep Disorder
Sleep disorders are usually the culprit behind oversleeping. Sleep apnea, where excess muscle and tissue growth in the throat obstructs the breathing passage while you sleep, is a leading cause of oversleeping. Hypersomnia is another sleep disorder where a person sleeps excessively during day time. While Narcolepsy is the brain’s disability to regulate sleep-wake cycles.
These, along with other sleep disorders, lead to sleep deprivation, after which a person oversleeps to make up for the lost sleep time. Identifying and treating these disorders is sufficient to alleviate excessive sleepiness. According to a study by NIH, treatment of sleep disorders such as Hypersomnia and Narcolepsy can significantly improve sleepiness that leads to oversleeping.
Lifestyle Factors and Oversleeping
Habits play a huge role in maintaining a balanced sleep-wake cycle. Here is how our lifestyle choices lead to oversleeping:
- Insufficient Sleep: Sleeping less than recommended hours trigger a rebound effect, making you long for extra sleep.
- Life’s Demands: If you have a demanding shift job, family responsibilities and study pressure that affects your sleep routine, chances are that you will often fall into the trap of oversleeping.
- Alcohol Influence: Alcohol interferes with sleep quality, making you feel tired and tempting you to sleep longer than usual.
- Physical Factors: If your BMI is elevated or you have an increased neck circumference, it can set the stage for sleep apnea, a potential culprit behind excessive sleepiness.
- Health Choices: A sedentary lifestyle and insufficient intake of a healthy diet contribute to oversleeping. Research links low thiamine intake with oversleeping, so getting your levels checked and addressed might be a simple solution to tackle the issue.
Adopting healthy habits, such as a balanced diet, a regulated sleep schedule, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol, can reduce oversleeping.
The Link Between Oversleeping and Tiredness
Spending more time under covers and still feeling tired after waking up is a paradox that leaves one puzzled. You seem to be catching up on rest, but ironically, you feel groggy and exhausted. It is like your body is signaling that it needs rest, but not this much. This contradiction is linked to disruptions in the sleep cycle, throwing off the balance a body actually needs.
Quality Over Quantity:
The quality of sleep is more important than the quantity of sleep. Even with all the extra sleep, tiredness may persist if your nighttime sleep has skipped the deep stages due to being interrupted. You can compare it to a buffet where you consume calorie deficit food and miss out on gourmet quality items your body truly desires.
Warning Signs: Are You Oversleeping?
When oversleeping starts sending signals, it’s time to pay attention. Here are signs that you might be spending a little too much time sleeping.
- You wake up feeling more tired than when you went to sleep.
- Recurring headaches upon waking up.
- Finding yourself feeling irritable or down despite sleeping for more hours.
- You feel sluggish and low on energy throughout the day.
- Difficulty concentrating and memory issues are often linked to oversleeping. It is because your brain is in sleep mode even after waking up.
- Unexplained weight gain.
- Disrupted nighttime sleep. When you find it hard to sleep at night, it will push you to sleep longer during the day.
The Headache Connection: Oversleeping and Head Pain
One might sleep extra to get relaxed, but the opposite happens when you. An NIH study finds that sleep disruption during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage causes headaches. The same study also concludes that for optimal headache treatment, addressing sleep hygiene and underlying sleep disorders is essential.
Blood flow dynamics as a result of oversleeping also play a role in triggering headaches. The extended hours of sleep lead to changes in cerebral blood flow patterns, which causes headaches.
Another factor that explains the link between sleep and headache is serotonin levels. When you sleep longer than required, the levels of this neurotransmitter, responsible for sleep and mood regulation, fluctuate. The imbalance leads to the development of headaches.
Dehydration and lower oxygen levels in the body due to sleeping for long can also cause you to develop a headache, reinforcing the importance of adequate hydration and oxygenation. Understanding all these connections emphasizes the importance of sleep quality over quantity, helping us to avoid sleep induced headaches.
The Sleepy Brain: Effects of Oversleeping on Cognitive Function
Sleeping excessively has several implications over our cognitive functions. Research from the world’s largest sleep study has shown that if you sleep more than 7-8 hours a day, it could cast a shadow over your cognitive function. The implications include:
- Cognitive Fog:
After waking up from a prolonged slumber, the delicate balance between neurotransmitters is disrupted, which affects memory, attention and overall brain function. These conditions are collectively called brain fog or cognitive fog.
- Sluggish Response:
Too much sleep can slow down your brain response, making it difficult to perform tasks that require quick thinking and prompt decision making.
- Memory Lapses:
Oversleeping affects your memory function, as it is challenging for you to recall information after waking up with grogginess.
- Difficulty Concentrating:
The desynchronization of brain circuits as a result of oversleeping can cause difficulty concentrating.
- Impact on Mood:
Sleeping more than the required duration leads to mood swings, significantly affecting your ability to perceive and interact with people.
Memory and Oversleeping
The fine balance between memory and brain function gets affected when you sleep too much. In particular, sleep disruption during the REM stage hinders memory consolidation, resulting in gaps and lapses in a person’s memory.
For optimal memory consolidation, quality sleep is essential. Memory consolidation is a process when short term memory progressing into long term memory. The process upsets when you sleep for long, as it becomes difficult to retain information and recall it when needed. The brain fog as a result of oversleeping pitches in further, affecting the ability to focus.
Finding the right balance in sleep duration aids in maintaining an optimal brain function, as the brain preserves and enhances memory effectively.
Mood and Mental Health
Oversleeping and mood swings have a complex relationship, with one affecting the other, making a vicious cycle. If a person is in emotional distress, he may sleep for an extended period. In turn, oversleeping negatively impacts mood and mental health.
The emotional landscape gets affected by excessive sleep, leaving one feeling flustered all day long. The thrown-off balance between neurotransmitters contributes to irritability, sadness, and intensified emotions.
The impact of oversleeping on mental health is proven by several studies in which oversleepers are reported to have been struggling with depression and anxiety.
The Health Costs of Catching Too Many Z’s
There are wider health consequences of oversleeping, which are as follows:
- Cardiovascular Concerns: The risk of heart diseases, including hypertension, coronary artery disease, and stroke, increases with oversleeping. A PubMed research shows that optimal sleep duration can prevent cardiovascular diseases.
- Metabolic Disturbances: Excessive sleep can negatively affect metabolic processes, resulting in conditions like obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance.
- Heightened Pain Sensitivity: Sleep issues are associated with reduced pain tolerance. This might be more challenging for people already facing chronic pain conditions.
- Weakened Immunity: The extended hours of sleeping impact your immune system, making you vulnerable to infections and illnesses.
The health impacts resulting from oversleeping create a challenging loop where the habit of sleeping for long cannot be broken due to deteriorated health.
Physical Health Consequences
Learning about the harmful effects of oversleeping is important, as there is a misconception about more sleep being beneficial for health. The truth is that too much sleep can result in physical health consequences listed below:
- Oversleeping has been associated with chronic health conditions, including diabetes, heart diseases, and mental health conditions.
- Sleeping more than the recommended hours disrupts the metabolic process, leading to weight gain and obesity.
- As discussed earlier, mental health problems are prevalent among long sleepers.
- Increased pain sensitivity as a result of oversleeping causes discomfort.
- It puts you at a higher risk of stroke, hypertension, and heart attack.
- Excessive sleep can negatively impact fertility, making it a concern for couples who are trying to conceive.
It is important to keep in mind that excessive sleep can also point towards underlying health conditions, including sleep disorders and neurological, psychological, pulmonary, and metabolic disorders. Recognizing the root cause of excessive sleepiness may help in determining appropriate treatment. Focusing on achieving sleep quality rather than quantity is important, as it plays a significant role in your physical health.
Sleep Quality vs. Quantity
While quantity of sleep matters, it doesn’t determine a good night’s sleep solely. Research concludes that quality of sleep is vital as poor sleep quality is linked with harmful effects on health. Sleep quality depends on several factors, including sleep stages, alertness, and satisfaction.
The impact of sleep quality on our well-being cannot be understated. It influences our cognitive function, mood, immunity, metabolic process, and much more. Poor sleep quality affects body functions, bringing on various health consequences. Hence, balancing sleep quality and quantity is important to a healthier life.
A consistent sleep schedule, good sleep hygiene, and adopting solutions to sleep issues ensures good sleep quality. For instance, using the best mouthpiece to end your snoring is an effective solution to get undisturbed sleep.
Mouthpieces play a helpful role in improving sleep quality, as they effectively reduce snoring. They can also be used to treat OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), a condition when a person momentarily stops breathing during sleep. Both snoring and OSA interrupt a regular sleep cycle.
There are several factors to consider while choosing a mouthpiece. We highly recommend going for VitalSleep mouthpiece, as it is an affordable, easy to use device to combat snoring and sleep apnea. Read our VitalSleep mouthpiece review to get a comprehensive outlook on the quality and features of this device.
Getting It Just Right: Balancing Your Sleep
Achieving the equilibrium for sleep is vital for a healthy body and mind. Sleeping more doesn’t translate to better health, and the myth has been busted by several reputable studies. We have summed up the advice for a balanced sleep schedule as follows:
✔️ Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on days when you are not busy. This helps regulate the internal clock of your body, signaling it to sleep and wake up on time.
✔️ Avoid oversleeping and under-sleeping by identifying the optimal sleep duration you need based on age, lifestyle, and personal factors.
✔️ Adopt healthy sleep habits, such as avoiding electronics, alcohol and caffeine before bedtime. Create a relaxing ambiance for a cool, quiet, and dark room.
✔️ Limit nap time to no more than 20-30 minutes, and never take one after 3 pm.
✔️ If you are experiencing health conditions that cause oversleeping, get yourself evaluated and treated.
✔️ Consider using customized sleep aids, such as mouthpieces, to address snoring and sleep apnea.
Identifying what causes oversleeping is crucial. If there are certain health conditions behind the habit of oversleeping, seek professional advice to address the issues properly. All the strategies mentioned above can help you achieve the right sleep balance, giving you several health benefits in the long run.