Reasons why we oversleep
When we have a short-term illness that causes fatigue, such as a cold or flu, or we experience a busy, exhausting day, our bodies need more sleep. But there are also long-term or chronic illnesses that can disrupt our sleep patterns and lead to oversleeping, including
Insomnia: the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Sleep apnea: a serious condition in which the airway is blocked and you stop breathing for a short period of time
Restless legs syndrome: a condition in which the person has an urge to move their legs while resting
Narcolepsy: a condition that makes it difficult to stay awake for long periods of time.
Inconsistent sleep schedules: Irregular sleep schedules put you at risk for a variety of health conditions. Just as your body needs regular meals to stay healthy, it needs regular, predictable sleep.
If you have to be at work by 8 a.m. and it takes you 90 minutes to get ready, eat breakfast and drive to work, you'll want to set your alarm for 6:30 a.m. By setting your alarm for the latest time, you'll get more uninterrupted sleep and also make sure you get to work in time.
If you set your alarm for 5:45 a.m. but spend another 45 minutes hitting the snooze button, your last 45 minutes of sleep will be seriously disrupted by the alarm. Even if you get back to sleep immediately, this can disrupt the quality of your sleep. It can interrupt rapid eye movement sleep, a sleep state that occurs in the last few hours before morning and is important for problem solving and memory processing.
Why you wake up feeling excessively sleepy
Sometimes, even when you fall asleep, you wake up groggy. Why is this?
Sleep inertia is the desire to stay asleep. It may also be stronger in the presence of other sleep disorders. For example, obstructive sleep apnea may disrupt the quality of sleep, so even if you sleep for an appropriate length of time, it's not refreshing sleep. This may make you want to stay asleep.
Circadian rhythm disorders, such as delayed sleep phase syndrome, can also make it difficult to wake up in the morning. Insomnia is another example of this type of disorder.
Ways to improve the quality of your sleep?
Sleep quality can be improved by sticking to a consistent schedule, waking up at the same time each day, going to bed when you feel sleepy, and having enough time in bed to meet your sleep needs. There are a few other pointers that may also help.
Don't be too optimistic when choosing your wake time. It is best to set your alarm clock to an obtainable goal. If necessary, help yourself get up on time by setting multiple alarms, having someone call you, getting someone to wake you up in person, or even using techniques that prompt you to get out of bed and turn off the alarm. Sun exposure is important, but it's also nice to wake up to pleasant sounds or favorite music. Give yourself something to look forward to when you get up, whether it's an enjoyable activity, a favorite coffee, or even a special breakfast.
Even if you're retired and don't need to get up at a specific time, avoid insomnia by keeping a regular wake up time and not spending too much time in bed.
Don't let yourself sleep in too much on the weekends, as this can lead to insomnia on Sunday nights.
If you find yourself looking at the clock too much at night, set the alarm, turn the clock around or cover it, and don't look at the clock at night. If it's time to get up, the alarm will go off, otherwise simply roll over and go back to sleep.
Sleep aids, such as drugs, alcohol, or other medications, may have a hangover effect that can also make it difficult to wake up in the morning. Sleeping pills in particular may not have completely worn off by morning, which can make it difficult to wake up on time.
You should use an alarm clock, right? Do you set one to tell you it's time to stop eating? Of course not. You pay attention to your body's signals that inform you when you feel full and when you've eaten enough. It would be great if we could listen to our body's ability to regulate sleep in the same way. In an ideal world, we would wake up naturally without the need for an alarm clock. You can take steps to do just that.
An alarm clock may be a necessary part of waking up in the morning, but if you use it wisely, you won't need a snooze button. If you find yourself waking up tired or restless despite getting enough sleep, it's important to discuss your concerns with your doctor or seek help from a board-certified sleep medicine physician.