Last Updated on: 1st October 2023, 12:43 pm
We all know the hazards of insufficient quality sleep, with 7-8 hours being the accepted norm. Less commonly discussed is how sleeping too much is almost as bad as not sleeping enough.
Oversleeping involves entering a new sleep cycle in the morning, just as we’re supposed to be rising and shaking off drowsiness. For example, waking up 1 hour later in the morning.
A night of quality sleep involves cycling through 4 sleep stages. Depending on how long you oversleep, you may reenter the third (deep sleep) or fourth cycle (REM sleep).
Consequently, oversleeping leaves you feeling exhausted, bleary-eyed, and grumpy. You’ll struggle with ‘brain fog’ – an inability to think straight, focus or concentrate, and make decisions.
Chronic oversleeping can be a serious problem and must be managed. Struggling to wake up in the morning can usually be attributed to poor sleep hygiene.
It’s not always as simple as getting to bed earlier, but this is never a bad start.
How Do You Feel After Oversleeping?
The impact of oversleeping is similar to failing to sleep or getting just a few hours of rest. Rather than waking up feeling refreshed, oversleeping leaves you groggy and struggling to think straight.
Waking up with brain fog from oversleeping can impact your entire day. You’ll be clumsy, slow to react in the morning, and potentially snappy and irritable toward those you encounter.
Why Does Oversleeping Make You Groggy?
The first step to understanding why oversleeping makes us groggy is knowing how sleep works. Sleep involves 4 cycles, each taking 90 – 120 minutes to conclude.
The average person completes 4 or 5 cycles over 8 hours of sleep:
- Stage 1 sees you start relaxing and unwinding.
- Stage 2 involves a drop in body temperature and slowing brain activity. According to Behavioral Brain Research, this is consistent with the brain and body conserving energy.
If you take a short nap, you’ll unlikely move beyond stage 2. You’ll feel refreshed in the short term but not so well rested that you can’t sleep in the evening.
An entire sleep cycle has another 2 stages:
- Stage 3 is what we call deep sleep. It only lasts around 20 minutes, but you’ll be fast asleep.
- Stage 4, REM sleep, is when we dream.
A night of quality sleep sees you complete all 4 stages several times. Assume you go to bed at 11 PM and set the alarm for 7 AM. This will permit you to complete 4-5 sleep cycles.
If you sleep through your alarm, waking up at 8 AM, you’ll likely have entered the third or fourth stages of sleep. These sleep cycles are harder to rouse yourself from, so shaking off the bleariness takes longer.
What Can I Do To Stop Oversleeping?
Regularly oversleeping can adversely affect your quality of life.
In addition to constantly struggling with brain fog, you’ll likely begin on the back foot each day. Time doesn’t stop when we oversleep, so you’ll likely need to catch up with what you missed.
There are ways to stop oversleeping, mainly based on improving sleep hygiene and routines. The following lifestyle changes can improve your chances of waking up on time and feeling refreshed:
- Retire to bed and aim to rise at the same time each day. Eventually, your body will fall into a rhythm and start waking on time.
- Avoid sleeping in for hours on non-working days because this confuses your body.
- Give yourself the best chance of sleep by avoiding alcohol and caffeine and ensuring your bedroom is at an appropriate temperature.
- Keep a sleep journal (pen and paper only – no screens) by your bed, noting anything that may be preventing you from sleeping.
- Don’t nap during the day because it’ll play havoc with your sleep at night.
Consider your choice of alarm. A loud, obnoxious, beeping alarm may rouse you from sleep – but you’re also likelier to hit the snooze button in annoyance.
According to Dreaming, this will cause you to return to REM sleep and likely oversleep.
What To Do When You Oversleep And Feel Tired
Even if you practice superior sleep hygiene routines, you’ll occasionally oversleep. It’s almost impossible to avoid this outcome altogether. What matters most is how you respond.
You may be tempted to return to bed when tired from oversleeping. You needed the rest, or you would have woken up too early. This is the worst thing you can do for the reasons discussed.
If you don’t start your day, you’ll unbalance your sleep routine further. This means you’re unlikely to sleep well in the evening, and the whole oversleeping cycle will start again.
As canceling the day and returning to bed isn’t an option, you must tackle the day instead.
Instead, take time to clear your grogginess by doing the following:
After oversleeping, pour yourself an 8oz glass of water. While the body undergoes stage 3 of sleep, any damage done during the day is repaired.
The International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, and Neurological Diseases explains that repair requires water. If you’ve overslept, the body has used more fluid, which must be replaced.
This is especially important if you have overslept after a night of excessive alcohol.
As drinking alcohol likely disturbs your sleep overnight, you may oversleep and dehydrate. Hydration for the brain and body becomes increasingly important.
You may pour yourself a strong cup of coffee to overcome grogginess. The stimulation provided by caffeine may give you an initial lift, but its impact will soon wear off. Also, caffeine is dehydrating.
Some people dislike the idea of breakfast, struggling to digest food in the morning without feeling nauseous. Alas, as the body has been fasting for some time, you must eat something.
Your blood sugar has dropped sharply and needs a kickstart. Eat a nutritious breakfast that provides protein, carbs, and fiber to replenish nutrients and calories expended when oversleeping.
If you’ve overslept, especially to the point of reaching stage 3 of sleep again, the body will cease activity. This means the body generates less oxygen than it needs to function.
Combat this by stepping outside and taking some deep lungfuls of fresh air. Close your mouth, take a deep breath through the nose, and slowly count to 4. You should feel the breath rise through you.
Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Once this time has passed, breathe out for 8 seconds. This should help you clear the head and leave the body relaxed, removing tension caused by oversleeping.
Stimulate the Senses
You can kickstart the body and mind by stimulating your 5 senses after oversleeping.
Splash some cool water on your face. The North American Journal of Medical Sciences explains how cold hydrotherapy relieves tension and fatigue, improving mood and concentration.
Step out into the direct sunlight. The morning air and feel of the sun’s rays on your face will leave you better placed to face the day ahead. However, excessive sun exposure can cause tiredness.
Engage your olfactory senses with an invigorating aroma from essential oils. Eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary boost brain activity, and citrus aromas can improve mood.
If you oversleep, your mind and body react more slowly than normal. Play some upbeat, energetic music to stimulate the brain and reduce stress.
Stretching releases endorphins and makes you feel better in the morning. After this, engage in some light cardio. If you work, consider walking rather than driving. If you’re not working, walk, cycle, or lift weights.
Sleeping too deeply and for too long is almost as bad as insomnia. It’ll impact your ability to function during the day. Enjoy the occasional leisurely start to the day, but avoid regularly oversleeping.