In a world where many of us struggle to clock the recommended amount of sleep, the concept of getting too much sleep might seem a little hard to understand. That being said, we were curious to find out if that was true — that you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to slumberland. Read on below to get the answer to this question, according to experts.
Note: As always, we recommend discussing your health goals with your licensed healthcare professional. They can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.
In terms of how much shuteye we should be getting on a regular basis, experts recommend about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for healthy adults, which can vary from person to person along with various lifestyle factors. For example, if you’re engaging in intense training for a marathon, or are dealing with jet lag, your body might need a bit more sleep than usual to feel restored.
Nancy H. Rothstein, MBA, The Sleep Ambassador®, who also runs an online 4-week self-managed sleep improvement program, adds that before delving into the topic of oversleeping, it’s important to note that sleep isn’t just about quantity—quality is equally important. “The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep, but integral to that is the quality of the sleep you’re getting,” she says. “If you are on your tech devices before bed, drink alcohol or eat a big meal in the hours before going to sleep, it’s likely that your sleep cycles and sleep quality are being compromised.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, “oversleeping” is defined as sleeping 11 or more hours a night, day in and out. Which leads us to our next question: What might be causing this?
Dr. Chris Winter, President of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It, notes that excessive sleeping can be the result of a number of different things ranging from sleep apnea to certain medications. Furthermore, Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, Sleep and Energy Expert and Motivational Speaker told the Huffington Post,“Oversleeping usually isn't about needing more sleep — it's usually about being exhausted because of some other physical, mental, emotional or spiritual deficit.”
If you feel like you’re sleeping longer than normal, your best bet is to seek a doctor or sleep specialist to figure out what is going on and help treat the underlying problem.
Interestingly enough, one major side effect of oversleeping is increased fatigue. As Harvard Health Publishing notes, “It makes sense that getting less sleep than you need might leave you feeling tired, but you may be surprised to learn that getting more sleep than you need may not leave you refreshed and energized. In fact, many people find that on days when they hit the snooze button more times than usual, they feel more lethargic and unmotivated.” The article goes on to explain that this is because essentially any deviation from normal sleep patterns can upset the body’s rhythms and increase daytime fatigue. Rothstein seconds this and adds, “You may feel groggy all day if you sleep too much. This is the body and brain telling you that the sleep you do get is not restorative — that something about your sleep is not working the way it is designed.”
As noted above, if you feel you’re having any issues with sleep, seek out a medical professional who can help you get to the root of the problem. In addition, Rothstein shared a variety of tips for practicing “good sleep hygiene” to help you feel your best: “Establish a consistent bedtime and wake time — your body clock, or your circadian rhythm, loves consistency,” she notes. “This includes weekdays and weekends. Also, don’t expect to back up your bedtime by an hour or more suddenly. You will need to do so in increments so your body clock can adapt.”
Her other suggestions include avoiding long naps late in the day, not getting into the habit of regularly hitting the snooze button (try putting your alarm across the room instead), and establishing a sleep routine so you can transition to bedtime peacefully.