Waking up after a short night of sleep is an awful feeling. Not only is getting out of bed tantamount to walking over a bed of hot coals, but also how are you expected to make it through the day on five hours of sleep? So, the following night you clear your schedule to make sure you get more than the recommended eight hours of sleep a night. Your morning alarm clock rings, you roll out of bed, and… you’re just as tired as yesterday. You just can’t win.
Oversleeping may seem ideal, but it can be just as damaging to our sleep cycle as not getting enough sleep. Now you may be wondering, what is considered a good night’s sleep? How much sleep a person needs varies from person to person and is dependent on a person’s age among other factors. Although oversleeping doesn’t carry the same serious health risks associated with a lack of sleep, habitual oversleeping could indicate physical and mental health complications.
How Does Oversleeping Affect Us?
Similar to undersleeping, oversleeping messes with our circadian rhythm — a 24-hour cycle that is driven by our biological clocks and results in physical, mental, and behavioral changes. By sleeping longer than normal, we unknowingly throw off our regular circadian rhythm. Those feelings of lethargy, fatigue, and drowsiness come from a sleep cycle that is out of whack and the human body not knowing what time it is, kind of like jet lag.
People who oversleep can experience a number of side effects as their bodies struggle to sync up with the right time. For example, some research has shown that people who oversleep often complain about headaches throughout the day. Researchers speculate getting too much sleep has an effect on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, especially serotonin. Other potential side effects of oversleeping include lower back pain, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
Why Do People Oversleep?
Sometimes oversleeping is the result of a long week. Other times it could be a sign of more serious health complications. Staying in bed all day could be a telltale sign of depression or it can be caused by drugs/medications, alcohol, or any combination. Some people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea — a serious condition that causes the person to stop breathing repeatedly during the night — require more hours of sleep due to interrupted sleep.
People who habitually oversleep could be suffering from hypersomnia — when oversleeping becomes a medical condition. These people often feel tired throughout the day, even after getting a full night of sleep. Constantly feeling tired often compels them to take naps at inopportune times. It also results in a number of side effects, including anxiety, irritability, lack of energy, loss of appetite, and memory loss.
How Can We Stop Ourselves From Oversleeping?
Luckily for people who find themselves sleeping way too much, there are a number of options for dealing with their oversleeping dilemma:
1. If you’re taking any medication that causes drowsiness, consult your physician and stop taking it.
2. Exposure to light and darkness is essential to our circadian rhythm. Let the morning sun shine through and be your secondary alarm clock.
3. Speaking of alarm clocks, put yours out of your arm’s reach. Getting out of bed to hit the snooze once should provide a burst of energy.
4. Most importantly, establish your sleep schedule and stick to it. Yes, even on your weekends. Oversleeping on Saturday and Sunday will mean trouble waking up on Monday.