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Oversleeping may not seem like much of a problem until you are late for class, or an important meeting. What you may also not realize is that oversleeping can have similar negative effects on your mental, emotional and physical health as much as under sleeping.
If you find yourself sleeping too much, difficult to go to sleep at night and feeling tired in the morning, you may be suffering from oversleeping. This article will review the condition, what you can expect if it isn’t corrected and ways to correct the condition. If you are wondering “how can I stop oversleeping?” we have the answer for you here.
What is Oversleeping?
By definition, oversleeping is getting more sleep in 24 hours than you should. How much sleep should you get each day? The current average is between seven and nine hours. With that rationale, anything more than 10 hours per day is considered oversleeping.
There is a lot more to it than that, though. Oversleeping is a condition that can be caused by many things and even if you sleep eight hours a night, you may be too tired to concentrate on your day. You may take naps and find they don’t help you become more alert. You may even find that the more you sleep, the more tired you feel.
One of the biggest side-effects is having a difficult time falling asleep at night. You may feel exhausted and sleepy, but as soon as you lay down, you tend to be wide awake. Likewise, the effect, then, is that when you do finally fall asleep, it becomes that much harder to wake up in the morning with your alarm.
As this effect begins to form a pattern you sleep later and later each morning, resulting in falling asleep later and later each night. This will begin to affect your circadian rhythm, the amount of REM sleep you get and how tired you feel while awake.
Possible Effects of Oversleeping
There are a lot of effects that can happen to you when you oversleep. The longer the oversleeping cycle goes, the more likely the effects will be. These effects come in both physical and psychological forms.
Aside from being tired, there are several physical side effects you should be aware of. The first thing you may notice is some unexpected weight gain. While we are awake, up and active, our bodies burn calories and fat. When we rest the body repairs injuries and attempts to save energy for use during the day.
The longer we sleep, the more energy is stored. This energy, by way of calories, is stored in fat cells, which can grow quickly. Oversleeping can lead to weight gain just from being inactive, which is made worse by other factors. We tend to want to eat when we stay up, and late night snacks and meals will contribute to excess calories being stored while sleeping.
The second most common side effect is headaches. There are two causes for headaches that are believed to be attributed to oversleeping. The first is the amount of REM sleep that is had. REM cycles produce brain activity with synapses and neurotransmitters going into overdrive. The late-stage REM cycle is when this occurs the most and when we tend to dream.
Because of so many neurons firing off, it is believed that too much can lead to headaches. The more REM sleep you get, the more likely you are to have a headache from it. The second cause is dehydration. We do lose hydration while we sleep. There are several causes for this, and the amounts of moisture lost are variable.
As we breathe, we lose moisture to evaporation. We also have sweat glands that can trigger for various reasons, night terrors or vivid dreams have been known to kick in our apocrine glands (the sweat glands responsible for nervous sweating, like sweating from fear, or being nervous: i.e., sweaty palms).
Excess sleep leads to more dehydration over time, which can lead to headaches.
There are many mental effects on the oversleeping condition as well, though we will cover the most common and detrimental one here. The most common psychological reaction is depression. This can be triggered by any (or all) of the physical effects, as well as just from being tired.
When you feel groggy, you can’t accomplish tasks like you normally do, undervaluing yourself can lead to depression. It can also be triggered by the weight gain, the constant headaches or just from the overall blah feeling you get from being sleepy.
One of the main problems with depression is that once it kicks in, it is difficult to get rid of. This, in turn, leads to more depression, which comes with its own symptoms. Further, you are less likely to easily fall asleep, leading to later nights awake, more trouble waking up and longer periods of oversleeping.
How to Stop Oversleeping.
By now you are wondering how to stop oversleeping. The truth is it can be quite simple in practice. However, you may find that if you have been oversleeping for a long period, the new routines and adjustments may take some time to get used to.
Stop Brain Activity
We aren’t telling you to disconnect your brain here. Instead, you need to stop feeding your brain information when you go to bed. We get in the bad habit of getting into bed and scrolling through our phones or tablets until we feel tired.
The problem here is that this constant activity is preventing the first stage or Non-REM sleep. During the first stage, our brains slow their activity and prepare the body for relaxation and sleep. If you are keeping your eyes open, with direct light (of any color) and moving objects, sounds, and images, it keeps our brains active.
You need to get in the habit of making the act of getting into bed as a way to tell your body it is time to go to sleep. You will eventually fall asleep faster, allowing for a more normal sleep cycle.
Plan Your Day Before Going to Bed
Another function of the brain is to solve problems. If you find that you lay in the dark and can’t “shut off your brain,” it may be that your brain is using the quiet and inactive time to focus on problems you will soon be addressed with.
You will ponder what you should wear to work, what time the meeting is, is everything planned out, will the secretary have the files ready, what should you bring for lunch, and other such situations.
One method is to keep a notebook by the bed and before you lay down, write down all of the answers to anything you can think of. Plan and write down what you will have for breakfast, what clothes you will wear, and come up with an alternate plan for the secretary not being prepared.
If all the possible questions (or as many as you can think of) are answered, your brain won’t have to go over them while you are trying to fall asleep.
Use an Alarm and Let in Light
We know we need to sleep seven to nine hours each night. When you go to bed, you should allow up to 15 minutes to fall asleep. Setting your alarm for seven or eight hours from then will give you the proper amount of sleep.
The trick here is you actually must get up and on your feet. When your alarm goes off, you will feel groggy and less alert. Your body needs signals that it is time to wake and begin functioning once again. When the alarm does go off, get up, stand up and open the window dressings.
Natural sunlight is the best signal to your brain that it is time to be awake and moving. Standing up will force the brain to start sending signals to the major muscle groups, and the light will help keep your circadian rhythm in sync.
Drink Water When Waking
One or two glasses of ice water in the morning are more invigorating than an entire pot of coffee. The cold water rehydrates the organs and increases blood flow. By starting your morning routine with 8 to 16 ounces of cold water each morning, you will be more alert and ready to go.
Continuing this cycle of waking and sleeping habits will help you to combat the oversleeping condition. You will wake up easier, be more alert and energetic throughout the day without the feeling of needing a nap, and you will fall asleep faster at night.
While the process is simple, it may be more difficult to get into the habits. If you find this is the case, instead of trying everything at once, pick one task, like getting on your feet and drawing the curtains, and focus on that one. Slowly add in the others until your routine is set and you are no longer oversleeping.