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Oversleeping: Too much of a good thing?

Posted by lorrainelea on Oct 23, '15

We all know it's important to get a good, solid night's sleep. But did you know you can have TOO MUCH sleep?

The amount of sleep you need varies significantly over the course of your lifetime and depends on your age and activity level, as well as your general health and lifestyle habits. If you're stressed or sick, you may need more sleep, but typically, adults require between seven and nine hours each night.

It's a myth to think you can 'catch up' or 'stock up' on sleep, and sleeping for longer than the recommended hours can actually affect you in a negative way. When you oversleep, you mess with your body's daily cycle and can result in you feeling as if you are hungover. This drowsy, sluggish sensation has lead scientists to give it the name 'sleep drunkenness'.

Oversleeping can be a nasty habit, but it can be controlled! Do any of these unhealthy sleeping behaviours sound familiar?

Oversleeping 2

You idealise time in bed

The first step is to realise you're guilty of this excessive sleeping behaviour. Think about the average amount of hours you sleep - if it's more than nine hours per night, that should be your initial warning flag. Stop idealising sleep and view it instead as a necessary function for a healthy body. Cap your sleeping time and start building a routine. By going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day your body will begin to get into a rhythm and will soon naturally wake up at the right time. When you get into a healthy sleeping pattern, you should never wake up tired.

You're addicted to sleeping-in 

Waking up on the right side of the bed has a lot to do with how and when you wake up. When you inadvertently spend the best part of the day in bed and wake up at 12pm, that feeling of guilt can trigger a foul mood, which can dictate how you feel for the rest of the day (or what's left of it). Even if you don't have to be up by a particular time, to ensure you don't oversleep, it's best to still set an alarm. Your body will thank you for it!

Oversleeping 1

You are a serial snoozer

Hitting the snooze button can be a knee-jerk reaction, but by allowing ourselves to fall back to sleep after our alarm has gone off will make it even harder to get out of bed! Studies into sleep fragmentation suggest sleep that is interrupted every few minutes by an alarm can lead to sleepiness-related daytime impairment. In other words, if too much of your time in bed is spent snoozing, you can expect impairments in your memory, reaction time, comprehension and attention. Ignoring the initial alarm and letting yourself snooze will result in that groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling, which is not the best way to start the day!

You set alarms for different times each day

By failing to create a consistent routine, you're throwing off your internal clock. If you set your alarm for the same time each day, your body will naturally begin to wake you up in time for your alarm. However, if you set your alarm for 6:00am one day, 6:30am the next and 7:45am the day after, your body will not be able to determine the right time to wake up or when it should begin to feel sleepy at night.

You're not as active as you used to be

By sleeping more, or even lying in bed for a significant period after you wake up, you are being less active, which in turn gives the body less time to burn of its energy during the day. Over time, this can lead to weight problems and a range of other medical problems. One study found that those who overslept had a 21 percent higher risk of obesity than those who didn't.

Oversleeping2

You stay in bed if the weather is bad

Even the weather can affect your sleeping patterns. Rainy days and dreary, grey weather can make you feel more tired and unmotivated to move. Cold weather makes it hard to persuade ourselves to get out of our comfy, warm bed in the morning. The longer we lie in bed, the more likely we are to slip back to sleep and your brain will begin its sleep cycle all over again, which will result in you feeling even worse than you did when you first woke up.

According to studies, in the worse case scenario, if you're oversleeping on a regular basis you could even be putting yourself at risk of more serious health issues like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

A great night's sleep has tonnes of health benefits, just be sure not to indulge in too much of a good thing!

Topics: advice, alarm, bed, home, lifehacks, lifestyle, oversleeping, snooze, sleep, Sleep in, tips

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