What is Oversleeping?

December 1, 2023 · John Gallagher

What is Oversleeping? Exploring Causes, Diagnosis, & Treatment

Disclaimer: The following information does not serve as a viable substitute for treatment from certified medical professionals. It’s important to seek assistance from licensed clinicians if you feel your oversleeping could be tied to an underlying sleep condition or disorder.

The average adult requires between seven and nine hours per night. Without enough sleep, your body is often left without the energy it needs for a full day of work. Insufficient sleep can also compromise your digestion, impair your heart health, and affect your mental health. 

However, oversleeping — getting too much sleep each night — can have similar consequences.

Oversleeping, medically known as hypersomnia, means sleeping more than the typical amount of sleep required per night. Hypersomnia also includes excessive fatigue after a full night of rest. Oversleeping affects roughly 2% of people and might require that you get 10-12 hours of sleep each night.

What Causes Oversleeping?

Many different factors can cause oversleeping. In some cases, frequent wake episodes cause an ability to reach deep sleep. Even if you don’t remember these wake episodes the next day, they can still leave you without the energy you need.

Here are some other common causes of oversleeping:

Oversleeping can also lead to additional complications. For example, people who oversleep can also develop symptoms like headaches and back pain. You might also experience obesity, diabetes, or heart disease as a result of oversleeping.

How is Oversleeping Diagnosed?

It’s important to speak with a certified medical professional if you believe you might be oversleeping. They can ask questions about your symptoms and medical history that provide context into your situation. They can also help you understand, and pursue, any next steps.

Your doctor or sleep specialist will also ask questions specifically about your sleep habits. They might ask you about your diet, caffeine intake, bedtime routine, and blue light exposure. You may also need to answer questions about your sleep environment — from pillows to sheets to the quality of your mattress.

Your doctor will want to know when you fall asleep and when you wake up each day. They will also want to know approximately how many times you notice yourself waking up each night. It’s also important to mention any times during the day when you find yourself falling asleep.

For even more context, your doctor might ask questions about your emotional health. You may need to answer questions about feelings of anxiety, particularly in the hours before sleep. You’ll also need to discuss any medications that could be compromising your sleep or forcing you into oversleeping.

Alongside the questions you answer, doctors might also schedule you for a series of follow-up exams. These might include blood tests, MRIs, sleep studies, electroencephalograms (EEGs), and computer tomography (CT) tests.

How Can I Stop Oversleeping?

Stopping an oversleeping habit doesn’t happen overnight. You can typically lessen oversleeping by identifying and relieving the root cause. For example, if nighttime phone usage is creating daytime fatigue and subsequent oversleeping, a sleep specialist might suggest implementing a sleep hygiene checklist to keep your bedtime routine on-time.

One of the first things you can do to stop oversleeping is to put yourself in the right frame of mind. So often, we lose sleep one night — which causes oversleeping the next night — simply because an overactive mind can keep us awake. To get into the right frame of mind, consider reading a comforting book, drinking “sleepy tea”, or taking a warm bath or shower. You might also try stretching, meditating, or keeping track of your sleep habits in a sleep journal.

Here are some other common suggestions to stop oversleeping:

  • Improve your sleep environment — Dim the lights, close the blinds, and use the right bedding to put yourself in the right frame of mind come bedtime. If loud or distracting sounds are keeping you from adequate sleep, consider white noise or a noise machine to drown them out.
  • Keep your daily routine during the weekends — The weekend is a time to relax, recharge, and spend time with loved ones. However, many people tend to break their weekday sleep habits when the weekend arrives, which can lead to oversleeping. For best results, keep your daily sleep-wake cycle the same during the weekends as you do for any week day.
  • Maintain a healthy diet — Your diet during the day can heavily affect your sleep quality in the evening. Prioritize fruits and vegetables during daytime meals and stay away from food items with artificial ingredients and preservatives. These ingredients give you the energy you need for a full day. They are also easier for your body to process, helping you avoid any evening-time gastrointestinal discomfort that might compromise the quality of your sleep.
  • Exercise — No surprises here: regular exercise can help prevent oversleep. Specifically, exercise helps your body improve the amount of slow wave sleep you receive each night. This helps your body rest and recharge while your brain remains hard at work.
  • Avoid excessive napping — A small nap during the day won’t overly compromise your nighttime sleep patterns. However, excessive napping can confuse your body’s sleep-wake cycles. This can prevent your body from properly adhering to your bedtime routine when it’s time to wind down in the evening.

These are far from the only tips to prevent oversleeping. You might also consider setting an alarm, turning off your phone after a certain time, and getting an accountability partner who can help you maintain disciplined sleep habits.

Diet and exercise shifts, changes to your daily routine, and disciplined sleeping aren’t always enough to prevent oversleeping — particularly if your oversleeping is tied to a medical condition. Be sure to consult a licensed physician if you don’t notice improvement in your oversleeping habits after implementing lifestyle shifts.

How Do Doctors Treat Oversleeping?

Treatment for your oversleeping will vary, depending on the underlying condition. In some cases, a doctor might prescribe melatonin and other supplements to balance sleep-related hormones. Clinicians might also supplement medication with suggested changes to your daily habits.

Oversleeping is commonly tied to one or more sleep disorders, each of which requires a unique clinical approach. Depending on your diagnosis, you might receive one or more of the following  treatments:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A form of therapy that focuses on identifying, then shifting, negative thought and behavior patterns. People suffering from oversleeping often participate in CBT to reframe thought patterns which contribute to oversleeping episodes. Therapy can help them address sleep hygiene, evening routines, and other processes that contribute to sleep or the lack thereof.
  • Positive airway pressure (PAP): Therapy primarily used to address breathing disorders. PAP requires that you wear a mask over your nose or mouth while you sleep. The mask delivers pressurized air that keeps your airways open. People who oversleep often use PAP to regulate sleep-wake cycles and prevent oversleeping from morning fatigue.
  • Brief naps: Many doctors will often recommend brief naps as a verified form of treatment. Often prescribed alongside medication or various forms of therapy, brief naps help to provide your body with the burst of energy it needs to continue the day.
  • Prescription medication: Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements that give your body the help it needs to stave off oversleeping. Depending on the underlying cause of your oversleeping, a doctor might prescribe medications like modafinil, pitolisant, or sodium oxybate. Many of these same forms of medication are also effective in treating conditions like insomnia and sleep apnea.

Along with any recommended forms of treatment, doctors often suggest changes that improve your sleep hygiene. These changes might include limiting substance use, starting your day without technology, or tracking your sleep-wake cycles through a sleep app.

Put Oversleeping to Bed with the Right Mattress

One of the biggest causes of oversleeping one night is a lack of adequate sleep the previous night. If your body doesn’t receive the sleep it needs, it might try to compensate during the next day or the next evening.

And one of the biggest causes of inadequate sleep — which can lead to oversleeping in a single night — is a poor-quality mattress.

Choosing the right mattress isn’t always a one-step journey, but it’s always an important one. With so many options, and without clear direction, the mattress selection process can feel intimidating.

At Mattress Warehouse, we’ve taken steps to transform the mattress selection process from a burden into an opportunity. Our patented bedMATCH sleep diagnostic program takes the guesswork out of buying a mattress. In five minutes, the bedMATCH quiz will pair you with mattress options that are ideal for your height, weight, and body type. No price bias, no haggling - just a wide range of the best mattresses for your sleep style.

Take the bedMATCH quiz today and let Mattress Warehouse deliver the sleep you deserve.