We all know the hazards of failing to get enough quality sleep, with widespread consensus explaining that we need around eight hours of slumber per night. Less commonly discussed is how sleeping too much is just as bad as not sleeping enough.
Oversleeping means entering a new cycle of sleep in the morning, just as we’re supposed to be rising and shaking off drowsiness. In such an instance, waking up an hour later in the morning is no different from waking up in the dead of the night.
A night of high-quality sleep involves cycling through four stages of sleep. Dependent upon how long you oversleep, you may re-enter the third or fourth cycle (deep sleep and REM sleep, respectively) – sleep stages that are hard to shake off.
Consequently, oversleeping leaves you feeling exhausted, bleary-eyed, and likely grumpy. You’ll struggle with ‘brain fog’ – an inability to think straight, focus or concentrate, and make decisions. This pass eventually, but it can ruin your morning.
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 that’s 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 will leave 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 around anybody you encounter.
Why Does Oversleeping Make You Groggy?
The first step to understanding why oversleeping makes us groggy is considering how sleep works. Sleep involves four cycles, each of which takes 90 – 120 minutes to conclude.
The average person completes four or five cycles over eight hours of sleep:
- Stage 1 sees you start relaxing and unwinding.
- Stage 2 involves a drop in body temperature and your brain starting to cease activity. As per Behavioral Brain Research, this is consistent with the brain and body conserving energy.
These two sleep stages are comparatively easy to rise from. If you take a short power nap, you’re unlikely to move beyond stage two of the cycle. You’ll feel refreshed in the short term but not so well rested that you cannot sleep in the evening.
An entire sleep cycle has another two stages that must be completed:
- Stage 3 is what we call deep sleep. It only lasts around 20 minutes, but you’ll be fast asleep during this time.
- Stage 4, aka REM sleep, is when we dream.
As discussed, a night of high-quality sleep sees you complete all four stages multiple times. Assume you go to bed at 11 pm and set the alarm for 7 am. This will permit you to complete four or five full sleep cycles. You should wake up feeling fine.
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 much tougher to rouse yourself from, so it will take longer to shake off the bleariness.
What Can I Do to Stop Oversleeping?
Regularly oversleeping can have an adverse effect on your quality of life. In addition to constantly struggling with brain fog, you’ll likely begin on the back foot each day. Time does not stop when we oversleep, so you’ll likely need to catch up with what you missed.
There are ways that you can put a stop to oversleeping, mainly revolving around improving your sleep hygiene and routines. Try the following lifestyle changes to 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 – this confuses your body.
- Give yourself the best chance of quality sleep at night by avoiding alcohol and caffeine and ensuring that 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, as that’ll play havoc with your sleep at night.
You should also consider your choice of morning alarm. A loud, obnoxious, beeping alarm may rouse you from sleep – but you’re also likelier to hit the snooze button in annoyance.
As per Dreaming, you’ll plunge straight back into REM sleep and likely oversleep.
What To Do When You Oversleep and Feel Tired
Even if you practice superior sleep hygiene routines, you may occasionally oversleep. It’s almost impossible to avoid this outcome altogether. What matters most is how you react.
If you’re tired from oversleeping, you may be tempted to return to bed. It’s easy to justify this to yourself. You needed that rest, or you would have woken up earlier. If you’re already in for a dime, why not go in for a dollar and catch up on as much sleep as possible?
For all the reasons we’ve already discussed, this is the worst thing you can do. If you don’t start your day, you will unbalance your sleep routine further. This means you’re unlikely to sleep well in the evening, and the whole oversleeping cycle can start again.
As canceling the day and going back to bed is not an option, you’ll need to tackle the day instead. Don’t flip to the other extreme in this instance, panicking at the time lost due to oversleeping.
Instead, take the time to clear your grogginess with five simple steps:
The first action you should take after oversleeping is to pour yourself an 8oz glass of water. While the body undergoes stage three of sleep, any damage accrued during the day is repaired.
The International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, and Neurological Diseases explains that this requires water use. If you’ve overslept, your body will have burned through more fluid than usual – water that must be replaced.
This is especially important if you have overslept after a night of excessive alcohol. As drinking likely disturbs your sleep overnight, you may oversleep and already be dehydrated. Hydration for the brain and body becomes increasingly vital in these instances.
You may pour yourself a strong cup of coffee to overcome grogginess. The stimulation provided by caffeine may give you an initial jolt, but its artificial impact will soon wear off – plus, caffeine is dehydrating. Pair coffee with the energy provided by food and water.
Some people dislike the idea of breakfast, struggling to digest food in the morning without feeling nauseous. Alas, as your body has been fasting for some time, you must eat something. Your blood sugar has dropped sharply and needs a kickstart.
If you have the time and can tolerate such a feast, eat a balanced full breakfast. That involves ensuring you consume protein, carbs, fiber, and sugar. This will replace nutrients lost while oversleeping.
If you’re struggling for inspiration and ideas about what to eat, and can’t face a full plate of bacon, eggs, and toast, consider eggs. These breakfast foods are high in iron, which will go some way to battling your sluggishness. Wash them down with a fruit juice that’s high in Vitamin C.
If you’re opposed to morning eating, settle for a piece of fruit. Opt for a nutrient-dense snack, such as a banana, or a hydrating selection, like a slice of watermelon.
3/ Deep Breaths
If you’ve overslept, especially to the point of reaching stage three of sleep over again, your body will cease activity. This means that your body generates less oxygen than you may need to function at full capacity.
Combat this by stepping outside and taking some deep lungfuls of fresh air. Close your mouth and take a deep breath through the nose, then slowly count to four. You should feel the breath rise through your, as though it peaks at the tip of your head.
Once you have drawn this breath, hold your breath for another count of four. Once this time has passed, breathe out for eight seconds. This should help you clear your head and leave your body in a state of relaxation, removing the tension provoked by oversleeping.
4/ Stimulate the Senses
You can kickstart your brain and body by stimulating your five senses after oversleeping.
Do this gradually to avoid causing any more stress than you’re already experiencing. If successful, you’ll speed up the process of overcoming grogginess.
Splash some cool water on your face. The North American Journal of Medical Sciences explains how cold hydrotherapy relieves tension and fatigue and improves mood and concentration.
Next, step out into some direct sunlight. The sight of the morning and the feeling of the sun’s rays on your face will help revive your circadian rhythms and leave you ready to face the day ahead.
Give your olfactory senses a workout by creating an engaging, invigorating aroma using essential oils or a scented candle. Eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary are believed to bolster brain activity, and citrus aromas can also improve your mood.
Play some upbeat, energetic music. This will stimulate your brain and reduce stress, leaving you ready to face the day sooner. If you’ve overslept, everything about your brain and body will be low tempo.
5/ Physical Exercise
Stretching is a great way to release endorphins and make you feel amazing in the morning. If you can also engage in a little yoga or pilates, so much better.
After this, engage in some light cardio. If you need to go to work, consider walking rather than driving (assuming that’s realistic.) This will make you even later, but you’re already behind schedule. You may as well arrive in a sharper state of mind.
If you’re not working, take a brisk walk, cycle, or lift weights at home. Don’t attempt anything too elaborate because oversleeping leaves you physically and mentally weakened. However, exercise will help you overcome the symptoms of oversleeping.
Sleeping too deeply and for too long is just as harmful as insomnia. It’ll undoubtedly have a similar impact on your ability to function during the day. By all means, enjoy the occasional leisurely start to the day when necessary, but avoid oversleeping as a matter of course.