Oversleeping Is A Sign Of Poor Sleep — Here's What To Do About It
By now we all understand the importance of getting enough sleep, but equally important is whether you're sleeping too much. The average adult needs roughly seven and a half to nine hours of sleep, and if you consistently need more than that, it's a sign you aren't actually getting quality sleep. Here are some signs to watch out for if you think you could be oversleeping, plus how to get back on track, according to sleep experts.
6 signs you're oversleeping.
As psychiatrist and sleep expert Nishi Bhopal, M.D., tells mbg, many sleep disorders can lead to oversleeping or "hypersomnia," including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. "There's also a condition called 'idiopathic hypersomnia,'" she adds, "which refers to excessive daytime sleepiness and oversleeping without an identifiable cause."
While oversleeping isn't always a sign there's a diagnosable issue, here are some signs to watch out for:
1. You often have a headache, particularly upon waking up.
There's a strong correlation between poor sleep and headaches, and if you've ever slept for an extended period of time, you may have noticed you have a headache when you wake up that lasts for much of the morning and potentially throughout the day.
2. You tend to catch a second wind at night.
According to professor and sleep researcher for Somnera Richard K. Bogan, M.D., FCCP, some folks deal with something called circadian sleep delay: "These are night owls. They tend to get their second wind late at night," he explains, adding it's harder for them to wake up in the morning. They may hit snooze and sleep longer, for example, as they deal with sleep inertia.
3. You always feel tired, no matter how much sleep you get.
If your oversleeping is related to idiopathic hypersomnia, you'll have terrible sleep inertia, Bogan says. "With idiopathic hypersomnia, they tend to be long sleepers or get the normal amount but don't feel rested," he says. "They may set two, three alarms, and it takes over half an hour for their brain to get warmed up and going—and even when it does, they're still sleepy."
4. You experience brain fog.
Given that oversleeping often equates to lack of quality sleep, it can greatly affect your ability to function on a daily basis, leaving you in a groggy blur. "Not only are you sleepy, but you can't think; you can't focus; you can't concentrate," Bogan tells mbg. "It can also affect memory."
5. You experience changes in mood.
Lots of sleep issues, including oversleeping, can cause changes in mood and even reduced motivation, Bogan says.
6. You could doze off any moment.
And lastly, ask yourself how readily you would be able to fall asleep right now? Watching TV later? You can actually reference something called the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Bogan says, to gauge whether your level of sleepiness is normal. If you could easily fall asleep in the middle of a conversation, or while stuck in traffic, for instance, that's something to look at.
Why oversleeping can be harmful to your health.
Believe it or not, many of the problems associated with oversleeping are similar to those of sleep deprivation, Bhopal tells mbg.
"Oversleeping is linked with depression, diabetes, headaches, heart disease, weight gain, metabolic issues, and more," she says. Research has also linked oversleeping with obesity and psychiatric disorders, and as Bhopal explains, the relationship between oversleeping and these conditions is "bidirectional."
This essentially means they compound each other. For example, oversleeping contributes to depression, which contributes to more sleep issues, and so on.
How to break the habit and get more restorative sleep.
First and foremost, Bhopal and Bogan both stress that if you're consistently tired no matter how much sleep you get, it's never a bad idea to talk to your doctor to figure out if there's an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
In the meantime, here are their tips for getting more restorative sleep so you wake up feeling more rested:
1. Have a consistent sleep schedule.
As best as you can, avoid sleep deprivation and support your circadian rhythm by going to bed and waking up at the same times every day. "Including weekends and holidays," Bhopal says.
2. Try a magnesium supplement.
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3. Try to get uninterrupted sleep.
We know, this one's kinda tough if you've got kids, pets, or even a loud neighborhood. But Bogan says waking up as little as possible will help you feel more rested come morning. Some controllable factors would include setting your thermostat to 65 degrees (the optimal sleeping temperature) and leaving your phone out of the room.
4. Mind the light.
You've probably heard you should avoid blue light before bed, which is true. Bogan suggests avoiding electronics before bed for this reason. But also, Bhopal adds it's a good idea to get bright light exposure during the day, to keep your circadian rhythm regular.
5. Limit your intake of alcohol and other substances.
Especially before bed, alcohol and other substances (even certain prescriptions) can cause sleep disruption and excessive sleepiness, Bhopal notes. Try to avoid it if you can, or talk to your doctor if you're unhappy with the side effects of a particular medication.
Sleep is essential, and whether you're getting too much or not enough, the side effects are no fun. Talk to your doctor if you're chronically tired and/or sleeping excessively to figure out a solution, but don't forget to mind your sleep hygiene, too.