Yes, You Can Sleep Too Much – This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Oversleep

We all know the feeling of waking up after a restless night of tossing and turning where you can't seem to switch off your brain. The next day, you're usually feeling the effects of a sleep hangover and your body and mind aren't performing at their best. So, getting as much sleep as possible should be the answer to all of those symptoms, right? Not so much. It turns out that oversleeping (usually more than nine hours) on a regular basis won't result in you springing out of bed feeling fresh each morning. In fact, it might just do the opposite. If you're considering a long nap this afternoon to "catch up" on sleep, read this first.

Headaches

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling groggy, almost like you're hungover? This happens a lot during the weekend as people tend to spend a couple of extra hours between the sheets in the morning to get some rest and relaxation time in before a new week. If you're regularly feeling the effects of morning headaches, it could be because you're sleeping past your usual time for breakfast or coffee and you're dehydrated, have low blood sugar levels or are feeling the effects of caffeine withdrawal.

Aches and pains

Bed rest was once a treatment prescribed by doctors for people feeling ill until they realised that movement and circulation is much more important for healing aches and pain than remaining still. When you sleep in regularly, your body remains in one position which can result in pain throughout the body. Hint: it might also be your old mattress.

Lack of concentration

Researchers often find that participants who get a regular seven-hour sleep each night perform well in cognitive tests compared to those who fluctuate between regular hours and oversleeping. Sleeping in of a morning can mean that you're at a higher risk of waking up feeling groggy and needing some time to feel alert again before you can begin your day.

Fatigue

Just as if you were taking a long plane ride, oversleeping regularly can throw off your circadian rhythm that is controlled by our internal clock. This part of your brain responds to light signals that tell your body it's time to wake up or go to bed. When the natural processes aren't followed, your rhythms can be thrown off course and you can wind up feeling more fatigued than if you had slept for fewer hours.

Low mood

Those who tend to sleep in on a regular basis are known to be more likely to report a lower mood than those with a more regular sleeping pattern. One reason is that by spending more time in bed you are reducing your physical activity levels which are important for the release of feel-good endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. 

If you're currently caught in a cycle of oversleeping, there's a few things you can do to get yourself back on track when it comes to your nightly snooze. First of all, your bedroom should become a tech-free zone at least an hour before you sleep to avoid excessive exposure to blue lights that can confuse your brain. Try winding down with a book and a cup to tea. Then, setting the same time for sleep and waking up every day will help you to avoid sleeping in. During the day, try to eat nutritious, healthy meals and get active outside for sunlight exposure and to increase those feel-good exercise hormones. All of these steps can help to regulate your day and improve your sleep pattern.

If you are concerned about your health, wellbeing or sleep, your first port of call should be your GP, who will advise a correct treatment plan. 

If you're waking up in the middle of the night, read about what happens to your body when you have sleep paralysis.

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