There are few feelings better than waking up feeling fully rested after oversleeping on a Saturday morning.
Many people struggle to get enough sleep each weeknight and make up for it on the weekends. It might feel good to sleep in after a stressful week. But, getting too much shut-eye regularly can be a sign something else is affecting your health. If you frequently oversleep and your life is negatively impacted, it may be time to investigate the causes.
Oversleeping is also called hypersomnia. This condition is sometimes connected with mental health issues like depression. Often, it’s the result of an underlying cause or medical condition like thyroid disease or heart disease. Hypersomnia is also connected to disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and narcolepsy.
Sleeping too much isn’t always related to a health concern. Some people simply need more sleep than others. As a general rule, most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. If you find yourself needing more than 9 hours on a frequent basis, your sleep patterns might be worth investigating.
How Much Sleep is Too Much?
Sleep isn’t just counted in hours. If you sleep 8 hours but wake up once an hour, for example, you aren’t likely getting quality, deep sleep. A true good night’s sleep enables you to be alert the next day. It’s common to feel groggy when you wake up in the morning, but the grogginess should wear off in a few minutes if you’ve had quality sleep.
Each person’s sleep needs differ based on their bodies and genetics, and these needs also change throughout your life. Most adults sleep 6-8 hours a night. Some people are short sleepers who need less than 6 hours a night but still function well the next day. Yet, some people are long sleepers who need 10 hours of rest or more each night. Habits like these tend to run in families.
How Many Hours of Sleep Should You Get Each Night?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of 7 hours of sleep. At the same time, the National Sleep Foundation also acknowledges sleep needs vary widely. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society both recommend adults get 7 hours of sleep. This amount of sleep must be maintained consistently to stay healthy. Habitually getting less than recommended hours of sleep can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.
If you need more than 8 hours of sleep each night, it’s recommended to sleep as much as you need to feel alert and awake the next day. However, there is also an associated risk with excessive sleep and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. People who sleep 9 hours or more are more likely to have memory loss as they age.
What Causes Excessive Sleeping?
Excessive daytime sleepiness is sometimes also called tiredness, fatigue, or lack of energy. Feeling tired all the time causes problems at home, work, and school. It is one of the most common reasons people visit their healthcare provider.
Although many people use these terms interchangeably, they have distinct meanings:
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Daytime sleepiness is classified as a sleep disorder. It can be diagnosed when a person is so sleepy during the day it impairs daily function. A person who has debilitating levels of sleepiness for at least three months can be diagnosed with hypersomnia.
A person with excessive daytime sleepiness can’t stay awake and alert during the day. Excessive daytime sleepiness may make driving or working difficult. Keeping up with other obligations, even to friends and family, can also be hard if you’re overly tired. Your daytime sleepiness may cause friends and family members to be concerned about you and your health.
Hypersomnia describes a group of sleep disorders called central disorders of hypersomnolence. Hypersomnias are not related to disturbed sleep patterns or imbalances in circadian rhythms. Instead, they have their own unique pathology. Hypersomnias usually warrant management by a sleep specialist.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder causing a person to fall asleep in inappropriate situations. People with narcolepsy may fall asleep while at work or social events. This condition is believed to be genetic and neurological. It can be dangerous if a person falls asleep while driving or doing another potentially dangerous activity like cooking.
Kleine-Levin syndrome is a rare disorder in which a person occasionally experiences excessive sleepiness. A person may sleep for twenty hours a day. People affected by this syndrome also display personality and behavioral changes. A person may eat excessively, seem disoriented, and act childishly. Adolescent men are the most frequently impacted by this syndrome. Scientists aren’t sure what causes these symptoms, but it is believed to be genetic.
This type of hypersomnia is diagnosed when excessive sleepiness is not caused by an underlying disease. This can be the most frustrating cause of hypersomnia, because there isn’t a standard treatment. Most people with idiopathic hypersomnia are able to treat their symptoms with lifestyle changes and/or medication.
Sleep Disorders Linked to Oversleeping
Some specific sleep disorders are also linked with oversleeping.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is intermittent and abnormal. Breathing stops and starts. Most people with sleep apnea snore off and on with breathing. People with sleep apnea do not get quality sleep. As a result, they may need to sleep longer or oversleep to feel refreshed.
Sleep-Related Movement Disorders
This set of disorders causes uncontrollable movements while sleeping. Leg pain and discomfort or the urge to move during rest is associated with restless legs syndrome. Other sleep-movement disorders include sleepwalking and bruxism (teeth grinding). Sleep-related movement disorders cause oversleeping because it takes more hours to get good rest. The disorders interrupt quality sleep and leave a person feeling unrested.
Excessive Sleeping in Adolescents
It’s common for teenagers to be excessively sleepy during the day. Many teens sleep in, or even sleep nearly all day, on weekends and during school breaks.
Teens need up to 10 hours of sleep each night. When they don’t get enough rest, sleep deprivation can kick in. A teenagers’ brain cognitive function and mood and are dependent on getting enough sleep. For teenagers with a driver’s license, quality sleep is also critical to their safety. Automobile accidents are a common cause of death among teenagers, and crashes are most likely to be caused by a young driver falling asleep.
Some sleep changes are normal in teenagers. Hormonal changes of adolescence can impact circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycles. Yet, excessive sleepiness may be a sign of a medical condition in teens. Depressed teens often get an excessive amount of sleep. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also causes sleep disturbances.
In most cases, however, teenagers oversleep because they are sleep deprived. As kids age, most parents stop enforcing bedtime. Teens stay up late until homework is finished or they feel naturally sleepy, usually after midnight. Then, the next day, they are asked to arrive at school much too early. Most high schools begin school before 8 a.m. To avoid excessive daytime sleepiness at school, teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
How Can I Stop Sleeping so Much?
Oversleeping becomes a habit for many people. Creating a new sleep routine and sticking to it is the best way to stop sleeping too much.
First, evaluate your habits. Drinking caffeine late in the day may encourage you to stay up later at night. Staying up later at night means you’re more inclined to oversleep the next day. Try to avoid caffeine after noon so you’ll be sleepier earlier.
Do you get regular physical activity? Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep. When you’re getting a good night’s rest, you won’t need to sleep as long.
Check your sleep hygiene. Do you have a regular sleep-and-wake schedule? Going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time each morning will help your body get into a better sleep schedule.
Why Am I Sleeping so Much?
If you find yourself oversleeping too much, be sure to visit your healthcare provider to investigate. Sleeping too much can be caused by mental health problems and other health conditions. Sleep disorders like narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea are also related to oversleeping.
Oversleeping is problematic when it impacts your life negatively. If you are often late for work or miss out on social activities due to oversleeping, making lifestyle changes can help. Avoid caffeine late in the day, and try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Exercising each day can help you get better quality sleep at night. When your sleep quality improves, you may need fewer hours of sleep.
Getting into a good routine can help you avoid oversleeping. Try to aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. This is the suggested amount for alertness the next day and the best long-term health outcomes. Sticking to a sleep schedule and reducing the amount of time you sleep will help your body normalize. You’ll notice you feel more alert during the day, even if you have less sleep.