We often hear about the dangers of staying up too late, waking up late, and sleeping too little. While these practices may lead to negative side effects, there’s also one other habit that has the potential to make your health decline: oversleeping.
Knowing how to stop oversleeping (and implementing those practices) can change the trajectory of your whole day — and your health.
While you may be able to look at a chart to find out how much sleep you need for your age, there are also signs you should keep an eye out for to determine if you might be sleeping too much.
These signs can include memory issues, productivity problems, depression, anxiety, or constant fatigue. If you feel you’re eating right and exercising a healthy amount but have these symptoms, it’s a good idea to adjust your sleep schedule as needed or take a trip to the doctor’s office for a checkup.
It would be nice if there were a hard-and-fast rule for how much sleep each person needs. While there are some general guidelines you can follow, it ultimately depends on your lifestyle, chronotype, general health, and activity level. However, by following the general recommendations for how much sleep you need for your age, you’ll be on the right track.
If you asked yourself, “Is it OK to sleep 12 hours a day?” the answer depends heavily on the stage of life you’re in. Adults typically only need up to nine hours, but school-age children are OK to — and sometimes should — sleep up to 12 hours.
There are many reasons you may be sleeping more than you normally do or more than you should. If you’re concerned about this or it happens for an extended period, it’s always best to consult a medical doctor. Possible underlying causes could be depression, thyroid problems, or a sleep disorder.
A habit can be very hard to break, especially if you’ve been doing it for years. However, there are specific things you can do to break the habit of oversleeping so you can start getting better sleep (and less of it). Creating a routine, keeping a sleep journal, and changing the type of alarm you use are all things that can help you stop oversleeping.
Some habits take more effort to break than others, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t notice immediate results. Instead, continue working on it and try different things to see what’s most helpful for you.
It may seem simple, but one thing you can do is set a bedtime and wake time for yourself. This can help your body create its own schedule, thus helping you avoid sleeping too much or too little.
You can also work on setting your body up for a perfect night’s sleep by creating a routine before you go to bed. Doing relaxing activities can calm your body and mind and help them prepare to rest — a valuable practice if you suffer from any form of sleep anxiety. Anything from reading to having a warm shower or bath can help you relax and unwind. Here are a few other things you can try:
Being able to fall asleep at your desired bedtime can also help you wake up at your desired time, as you’ll be getting the right amount of sleep for your body. By creating an environment primed for sleep, you can encourage your body and brain to relax, which can help you fall asleep easier.
If you want to get better sleep, making sure the room is dark is essential. If it’s noisy, you may want to use earplugs or a sound machine to filter out background noise. You’ll also want to be aware of the temperature of the room. If it’s too hot or too cold, chances are you won’t fall asleep very well (or stay asleep). You can prepare your room to be at a comfortable temperature by changing your thermostat an hour or more before bed, or by investing in a new pair of sheets to better fit your needs.
Sleep journals are an excellent way to track how you sleep under different circumstances. By writing down details about your surroundings or activities before falling asleep, you can better assess what you should change or keep the same.
For example, if you drink a cup of caffeinated tea an hour before bed and find you have a hard time falling asleep or waking in the morning, try avoiding caffeinated tea at least two hours before bed to see if that makes a difference. If nothing changes, look at other contributing factors such as room temperature or activities you do before going to bed.
We know — sleeping in on the weekends can sometimes feel like a mini vacation. However, sleeping longer than normal on the weekends can be detrimental to your sleeping routine and health. A study by the American Heart Association found that those who spend their weekend catching up on sleep for two or more hours are more likely to have poor cardiovascular health than those who don’t try catching up on sleep.
Putting your technology away before bed can also help you stop oversleeping. Harvard Health Publishing by Harvard Medical School recently shared an article about the negative effects of blue light in technology on sleep. They explain how light of any kind poorly affects the production of melatonin — a hormone produced to control the sleep-wake cycle — but blue light, in particular, does so even more powerfully. Putting technology away before bed is one step to knowing how to sleep less and better.
Believe it or not, the way you eat throughout the day can help or hinder your sleep. From the amount of caffeine you consume to the types of nutrients you’re giving your body — it all matters.
Dr. Ana Krieger explained to NBC News in a past article how eating the right nutrient-rich foods enables your brain to produce neurotransmitters needed to maintain sleep.
Sleeping too much, even if it’s broken up at different points throughout the day, can make you feel even more tired or groggy than if you hadn’t napped at all. To help keep yourself awake during the day, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
If you start to feel drowsy, try doing some jumping jacks or other exercises to get your blood pumping and your body moving.
While there’s no definite, scientific answer for exactly how exercise improves sleep, there is a correlation between exercise and the amount of deep sleep you get.
Charlene Gamaldo, Medical Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, explains that exercise increases the amount of deep sleep you experience. This is important because deep sleep is what rejuvenates your body. Exercise can also decompress the mind and balance your mood, which can better help you fall asleep initially.
By exercising during the day, you prepare your body for deep sleep at night, which will help you wake up better in the morning. When your body has experienced the rejuvenation it needs, you’re less likely to wake up tired or groggy and want to keep sleeping.
It’s no secret that the majority of people have a negative relationship with their alarm clock. However, there are different types of alarm clocks and some can be better for preventing oversleeping than others. Phone or other digital alarm clocks often sound with a loud jingle or song, usually annoying you before hitting snooze. On the other hand, sunrise alarms or light alarms help you wake up gently and naturally.
Oversleeping may seem harmless, but unfortunately, studies suggest there may be negative long-term effects. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that heart disease, obesity, depression, headaches, and Type 2 diabetes are often associated with sleeping too much. There’s no clear answer on which comes first — the problem or the oversleeping — but no matter what, it’s always important to go see your doctor if you have symptoms for any of the health problems listed above.
You may think that sleeping too little is worse than sleeping too much, but there are negative health effects of both. If you find yourself sleeping a little too much, knowing how to stop oversleeping can get you on track to living a healthier life. It may be a difficult journey, but trying out different techniques like keeping a sleep journal or swapping out your old alarm for a light alarm can help you get there.