Good sleep is an essential part of physical and mental health.
Sleep doesnt just recharge you and prepare you to face another day. The right amount of sleep can also benefit your health in a number of ways. Still, even though quality sleep is necessary, you can overdo it.
The sweet spot for healthy sleep generally falls between 7 and 9 hours each night for most adults, or 8 to 10 hours for teenagers.
If you often dont get the sleep you need, youll probably feel tired during the day, and you might notice more serious health effects over time.
Regularly getting more sleep than you need sleeping more than 9 or 10 hours most nights can leave you feeling pretty rotten, too.
You might feel groggy and disoriented if you oversleep, but you could also notice a low mood or feelings of depression.
But can oversleeping actually cause depression? Well explore the link between the two below.
While 2015 research found links between oversleeping and depression, most existing evidence suggests oversleeping is a symptom, not a cause, of depression.
Sleep problems commonly occur with depression. In fact, research from 2017 suggests that most people living with major depression have some type of sleep difficulty.
The study, which considered data from 3,573 people diagnosed with major depression, found that over 92 percent of the participants had trouble sleeping. Insomnia was the most common sleep problem, but nearly half of these participants experienced hypersomnia. About a third said they experienced both hypersomnia and insomnia.
Hypersomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness, even after lots of sleep is more often associated with atypical depression, now called major depression with atypical features. With this type of depression, positive life changes, exciting news, and other outside factors can temporarily brighten your mood something that usually wont happen with major depression.
According to research from 2008, youre more likely to notice oversleeping with depression if youre a woman or under the age of 30.
Sleep problems can develop long before depression, though experts have yet to determine exactly how sleep difficulties might contribute to depression risk.
When you live with depression, oversleeping on a regular basis could potentially worsen your symptoms.
A 2014 study even suggested that people who sleep for more than 8 hours may experience more depression symptoms than people who sleep 8 hours or fewer each night.
Think of it as a cycle. Depression often affects your mood, energy, and outlook for the future. You might feel drained and lethargic, less interested in your usual activities, and hopeless that your symptoms will ever improve.
Sleep, then, offers more than one solution. You might sleep because:
Even simply lying in bed and occasionally dozing off might seem like the best way to spend your time when you dont feel up to anything else. But then you might start feeling guilty about spending so much time in bed, leading to an even more dismal mood.
Its normal to feel a little down or blah after sleeping in, but that doesnt necessarily mean you have depression.
Clinical depression causes persistent changes in mood that show up in most areas of life.
You might notice:
These symptoms usually remain pretty consistent throughout the day. Oversleeping, on the other hand, can leave you feeling low, but your mood will probably lift eventually.
So why do you feel so out of it? Here are a few possible explanations.
Not getting the right amount of sleep can throw off your circadian rhythm, or your natural sleep-wake cycle. This internal biological clock helps regulate daytime energy and alertness and nighttime sleepiness by sending signals to your body when its time to go to sleep or wake up.
Sleeping too little or too much can confuse the cells that send these signals, leaving your body uncertain how to respond. Should you wake up and feel energized? Or is more sleep the answer?
Consequently, you might wake up exhausted and lethargic, or feel ready for bed just a few hours after getting up. Over time, an inconsistent sleep-wake schedule can make it difficult to get the sleep you need even when you aim for just the right amount.
You went to bed last night with big plans for the morning: Get up early, do some chores, take a long walk, and go grocery shopping for an afternoon barbecue with friends.
When you wake up 2 hours later than you planned, your mood instantly plummets as you realize youll need to hustle to even get half of those things done. You were looking forward to knocking out some cleaning and getting some exercise, but youll probably have to skip one of those.
Feeling as if youve already wasted your day can frustrate you and leave you grumpy and irritated. You might even decide not to bother with any of your plans, since you cant do exactly what you wanted to do.
If oversleeping regularly keeps you from meeting friends or doing other things you enjoy, you might begin to feel guilty and disappointed in yourself. You might even stop making plans entirely, which can fuel loneliness and, in time, depression.
Oversleeping and ever-present exhaustion are key signs of the sleep condition hypersomnia.
With hypersomnia, you might wake up feeling disoriented and somehow still drained of energy. Instead of feeling refreshed, you might be unable to find the motivation to get out of bed and go about your day.
Other symptoms include:
These symptoms are often also seen with depression. Its possible, then, that you could be oversleeping not because you have depression, but because you have a sleep disorder.
You could also oversleep when you dont sleep well during the night. Maybe youre in bed for 7 to 9 hours, but your sleep is frequently disrupted by:
You wake up much later than planned, completely out of sorts. You stare at the clock in disbelief and dismay. What next?
If you already feel miserable, it might seem tempting to write the day off and stay in bed.
Yet, even though getting up might feel like an impossible feat, these strategies can help ease that groggy, late-morning funk.
Not everyone wants to exercise first thing in the morning, but 2020 research suggested a short morning workout may help boost daytime concentration, focus, and memory.
Exercise can also boost energy and improve your mood, so it may help you shake off lingering fatigue and frustration after oversleeping.
Try a short walk around your neighborhood, or put on some energizing dance tunes to reap the mood-boosting benefits of music.
Even simple stretches and yoga can help you feel more awake and alert.
When you feel sleepy in the morning, your first concern might be coffee, green tea, or another energizing beverage.
You might not feel all that hungry, but a light, protein-rich breakfast can provide an energy boost that helps you feel more prepared to face the day.
A few nutritious breakfast ideas:
Mild dehydration can also cause fatigue, so drinking some water might also help. (A quick splash on your face cant hurt, either!)
For a natural energy boost, open your curtains or step outside into the sunlight as soon as you wake up. Natural light tells your body its time to start the day, so sunlight can help you feel more energized and awake.
Breakfast on the porch or a backyard yoga session can help raise your spirits along with your energy.
If its a cloudy day, or still dark when you wake up, turning on the lights can help, too.
Most people oversleep on occasion, especially after a few late nights or intense physical activity. If you usually dont have any problems getting up in the morning, you probably dont need to worry about sleeping too long once in a while.
But, if you notice more frequent oversleeping, it may be time to talk with a healthcare professional. Only medical and mental health professionals can diagnose sleep disorders and mental health conditions.
Getting an expert opinion becomes even more important when:
If you need someone to talk with in a moment of distress, trained, compassionate crisis counselors can listen and offer support with finding helpful ways to cope. Here are a few options:
Since depression and sleep disorder symptoms can overlap, make sure to tell a professional about all of your symptoms.
Even the symptoms that dont seem relevant anxiety, anger, aches and pains, increased tearfulness can help a professional figure out whats affecting your sleep habits.
Already getting support for depression? If you continue to oversleep, even as other symptoms improve, let your care team know. They can offer guidance on alternative approaches and treatments that can help prevent oversleeping and reduce the chances of your symptoms getting worse.
A night of good sleep usually feels pretty darn great, but oversleeping can leave you anxious, guilty, and irritable.
If youre unable to shake a bad mood after sleeping in, calming breathing exercises or a loving-kindness meditation may help.
You cant reclaim those lost hours, but thats OK. Tomorrow is another day, and practicing self-compassion today can help you make the most of the hours that remain.
Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, shes committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.
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