When someone says they’re having sleep issues, you usually assume they’re getting less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours. You might be surprised to hear that the other extreme can be harmful too.
Oversleeping is a recognized sleep disorder called hypersomnia. It can have many causes and can affect your mental and physical health.
Some fluctuations are natural. However, if you’re regularly logging more than 9 hours and not feeling refreshed, it’s worth investigating the situation. Find out more about oversleeping and how to avoid it.
Ironically, many of the causes and consequences of oversleeping are similar to sleep deprivation. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step toward making positive changes.
Keep these facts in mind:
1. Know your needs. Your age and activity level influence how much sleep you need. You may also require more rest when you’re under stress or recovering from an illness.
2. Protect your heart. Research shows that women who sleep 9 or more hours on a regular basis may be more likely to have heart disease than women who sleep for 8 hours. Cutting back is a smart choice for your heart, along with exercise and a balanced diet.
3. Prevent diabetes. Almost half of adults with type 2 diabetes have sleep issues due to unstable blood sugar and related symptoms. Healthier habits could make your condition easier to manage.
4. Relieve pain. Too much rest could be making your head and back ache more. Try resuming your usual activities as much as possible.
5. Lose weight. Poor quality sleep increases your risk for obesity. That’s partly due to a variety of metabolic disorders and increased cravings for high calorie foods.
6. Consider counseling. Depression and anxiety are more likely to cause insomnia, but they can have the opposite effect too. Talk therapy and medication may boost your mood and strengthen your coping strategies.
Focusing on the quality of your sleep can help you overcome hypersomnia, as well as insomnia. Many experts believe that how well you sleep is at least as important as how long you sleep.
Try these tips:
1. Stick to a schedule. A consistent bedtime is one of the most powerful sleep habits. Your goal is to wake up naturally feeling refreshed, instead of reaching for the snooze button.
2. Avoid napping. Regardless of how much you sleep, it’s tempting to go back to bed if you feel tired. Unfortunately, that can disrupt your overnight rest. If you’re not ready to give up napping, do it early, and keep it brief.
3. Upgrade your bedroom. Adjust your sleeping environment. Block out light and background noise. Check if you need a new mattress or pillows.
4. Drink responsibly. Alcohol will help you to nod off faster, but it disrupts your natural cycles. Studies also show that adults who drink have a 25% higher risk for sleep apnea, a common cause for hypersomnia and insomnia. Take days off from alcohol and skip the nightcaps.
5. Keep a diary. Writing about your sleep behavior might help you to spot patterns and talk about them with professionals. Use a paper journal or an app to record information like when you go to bed and wake up and the number and duration of sleep interruptions you experience overnight.
6. See your doctor. A physical exam can help rule out any underlying medical conditions. Your doctor can also refer you to a sleep specialist for further tests and treatment.
For most adults, getting 7 to 9 hours of high-quality sleep each night is the winning formula for maintaining your health and productivity. If you need more help with sleeping too much or too little, talk with your doctor about your individual concerns.