How to Stop Oversleeping

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Is it difficult for you to fall asleep at night, and almost impossible to get up in the morning? Oversleeping is often caused by a lack of sleep or a restless nighttime routine. It can lead to issues like being late for work or class, falling asleep during the day, and being unable to get a good night’s sleep regularly.

Changing Your Morning Routine

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    Avoid hitting the snooze button on your alarm. Though you may be tempted to sleep for just five more minutes in the morning for some extra sleep, hitting the "snooze" button on your alarm will in fact make you more tired. When you hit snooze, your brain goes even deeper into your sleep cycle. By the time you hit "snooze" several more times, and finally wake up, you will feel groggy and even more tired than if you got up with your alarm.
    • If possible, get an alarm without a snooze button. Or disable the snooze option on your existing alarm.

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    Put your alarm clock on the other side of the room. Rather than having your alarm close to your bed, where you can easily hit the snooze button or shut off your alarm, put your alarm clock somewhere that forces you to get out of bed. That way, you will be forced to get out of bed in the morning to shut your alarm clock off.
    • For example, you could place your alarm clock on a dresser that is on the opposite side of your room. Or, if you think you will still be able to hear it, you might even place your alarm in an adjacent room, such as a bathroom.
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    Invest in a graduating-light alarm clock. These alarm clocks grow progressively brighter as it gets closer to your wake up time. This light will help you wake up slowly and hopefully, easily, without shocking your body with a sudden alarm. Graduating-light alarm clocks are also good for the winter, when the mornings are dark and it can be hard to get out of bed.
    • You can find graduating-light alarm clocks at your local drugstore, or online.
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    Make your morning routine positive and consistent. Stretch and get up, open the curtains of your room and let the morning light in. Treat the morning like a positive experience and commit to looking forward to your day.
    • You may also start a routine of getting dressed and eating breakfast within a certain time. As you get ready, plan out your schedule and your tasks or commitments for the day.
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    Try waking up without your alarm. If you stick to a consistent sleep schedule and maintaining a regular sleeping pattern, you likely will be able to get up on your own, without an alarm and without oversleeping.
    • Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning will program your body to get used to a regular sleep schedule. Over time, your body will act as its own alarm clock, and you should be able to wake up on your own at the same time, every day.

Adjusting Your Sleep Habits

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    Keep a regular sleep schedule. Create a sleep schedule where you wake up and go to sleep at the same time everyday, even on weekends or days off. Sleep requirements vary from person to person, but on average, you should be getting between seven to nine hours of sleep to function at your best during your waking hours. However, some people need as much as ten.[1]
    • Teenagers generally need more sleep than older adults. Young bodies need a lot of rest while growing during adolescence.
    • Some people require more sleep than others. A very few people thrive on as little as six hours a night, while others require ten to be truly rested. Respect these differences; a person needed more sleep is not lazy or bad.
    • Some people think getting just one less hour of sleep will not greatly affect their daily functioning. Another belief is that sleep can be made up on the weekend or a day off. And once in a while is probably fine. But if this happens a lot, your regular sleep schedule will suffer, leading to oversleeping or being overly tired when you wake up.[2]
    • It is a myth that the human body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedule. While most people can reset their biological clock, this can only be done by timed cues, and even then, only by one to two hours per day at best. It can take more than a week for your body’s internal clock to adjust to traveling across several time zones or to switching to the night shift. Even then, some people adjust easier than others.
    • Extra sleep at night cannot cure you of your daytime fatigue. The quantity of sleep you get every night is important, but the quality of your sleep is more important. You may get eight or nine hours of sleep a night but will not feel well rested if the quality of your sleep was poor.[3]
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    Turn off all electronics and distractions a few hours before bed. Switch off your television, smartphone, iPad, and computer or keep all electronics out of your bedroom completely. The type of light these screens emit can stimulate your brain, suppress the production of melatonin (which helps you sleep), and interfere with your body’s internal clock.[4]
    • Another option is to shut down your computer on a schedule. This will automatically sleep your machine and prevent you from working on your computer too late or too close to your bedtime. There are sleep features on both PCs and Macs that you can activate. As well, if you want your computer to be ready to go in the morning, once you wake up, you can schedule a startup time too.
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    Set an alarm to remind you it’s time for bed. If you tend to get wrapped up in evening activities or conversations and forget to stick to your sleep schedule, you can set an alarm on your phone or computer to alert you 1 hour or 30 minutes before bedtime.
    • If you prefer to shut down all electronics a few hours before bed, you can use an alarm on your watch or ask someone you live with to remind you of bedtime one hour before the appointed time.
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    Do a relaxing activity before bed. This could be a warm bath, reading a good book, or having a quiet conversation with your partner. Relaxing hobbies or activities are also an excellent choice. Doing a restful activity will help to trigger your brain to start relaxing and shutting down.[5]
    • Playing on the computer or your device is not a good activity - your body is quiet, but your mind may be overstimulated and the light of the screen triggers the mind to be awake.
    • Likewise with television: this device triggers "awake" signals in the brain.
    • If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed in the dark, avoid staying there awake for prolonged periods. Instead, get up and do something calming in order to get your mind off your inability to sleep. Getting anxious about not being able to sleep, and dwelling on it will actually make it less likely you will be able to get to sleep.[6]
    • Again, do not turn on the television, gaming system, computer, or other electronic device.
    • Try things like reading, washing the dishesknitting, running a load of laundry, doing origami, or the like.
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    Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Put up heavy curtains or shades to block the light from windows. Cover any electronic displays, like TVs or computers so the light does not glow in the room. You can also use a sleep mask to cover your eyes to help you sleep.[7]
    • A cool temperature in your room when you sleep will actually help you get a better night's sleep. A drop in your core temperature, due to a cold sleeping environment, can trigger your body’s "let’s hit the hay" tendencies and help you get right to sleep.[8]
    • If you have difficulty sleeping due to loud noises outside your window or a loud sleep partner, consider investing in good earplugs, or a noise machine.
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    Wake up with the sun. You can also set a timer so bright lights come on in your room in the morning at the same time every day. Sunlight helps your body’s internal clock to reset itself each day. This will also help you avoid oversleeping, as the sun will cause you to wake up.[9]
    • Sleep experts recommend exposure to an hour of morning sunlight for people who have trouble falling asleep.

Adjusting Your Daily Habits

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    Avoid consuming caffeine four to six hours before your bedtime. About half the caffeine you consume at 7 pm is still in your body at 11 pm. Caffeine is a stimulant and can be found in coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas, diet drugs, and some pain relievers.[10] Limit how many cups of coffee you have several hours before bed, or try to eliminate caffeine in your diet all together.[11]
    • Alcohol also prevents deep sleep and REM sleep. It will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep, causing you to possibly wake up easily and have a harder time falling back asleep. Avoid consuming alcohol one to two hours before bed to ensure you get a good night’s sleep and don’t oversleep in the morning.[12]
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    Don’t nap after 3 pm. The best time for a nap is usually mid afternoon, before 3 pm. This is the time of day you will likely experience afternoon sleepiness or a lower level of alertness. Naps taken before 3 pm should not interfere with your nighttime sleep.[13]
    • Keep your naps short, between 10 to 30 minutes. This will prevent sleep inertia, which is when you feel groggy and disoriented after a nap that goes on for longer than 30 minutes.[14] This will also prevent you from oversleeping the following morning, as naps under 30 minutes should not interfere with your sleep schedule.
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    Start a sleep journal. A sleep journal or diary can be a useful tool to help you identify any habits that may be keeping you awake at night and causing you to oversleep in the morning. You may be able to also pinpoint if you are displaying symptoms of a sleep disorder. Update your sleep journal with notes on:[15]
    • What time you went to bed and woke up.
    • The total sleep hours and quality of your sleep.
    • The amount of time you spent awake and what you did. For example: "stayed in bed with eyes closed" "counted sheep" "read a book".
    • The types of food and liquids you consumed before bed and the amount of food and liquids you consumed.
    • Your feelings and moods before bed, such as "happy" "stressed" "anxious".
    • How long it took you to get up the morning, and how often you hit the "snooze" button on your alarm.
    • Any drugs or medication you took, such as sleeping pills, including the dose and time of consumption.
    • Notice any triggers that start to repeat themselves in your sleep journal and see if there are ways you can prevent or limit these triggers. For example, maybe you often get a bad night’s sleep on a Friday after drinking two beers. Try not to drink at all the following Friday and see if this improves your sleep.
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    Use sleeping pills only when necessary. When you take sleeping pills for a brief period of time, and based on your doctor’s recommendations, they can help you fall asleep. But they are just a temporary solution. In fact, sleeping pills can often make insomnia and other sleep issues worse in the long term.[16]
    • Use sleeping pills and medications sparingly for short term situations, like traveling across several time zones or when recovering from a medical procedure.
    • Using sleeping pills only when necessary, rather than on a daily basis, will also prevent you from being dependent on them to help you sleep every night.
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    Be aware of over-the-counter medications that can lead to insomnia and sleep issues. Many of the side effects of these drugs can have adverse effects on your sleep patterns and daytime alertness. Common medications that can disturb your sleep include:
    • Nasal decongestants.
    • Aspirin and other headache medications.
    • Pain relievers that contain caffeine.
    • Cold and allergy medications containing an antihistamine.
    • If you are taking any of these medications, try to reduce your dosage or stop taking altogether. These medications are not meant to be taken on an ongoing basis. Talk to your doctor about alternative methods to treat these issues so you can stop taking these over-the-counter medications.

Talking to Your Doctor

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    Speak to your doctor about problems with oversleeping. Your doctor needs to know if you are having chronic issues with sleep. It is a serious issue. If you constantly oversleep throughout the week, you may suffer from headaches or back pain. Oversleeping affects the neurotransmitters in your brain and lead to headaches. Back pain can be caused from sleeping on a regular mattress for a prolonged period of time.
    • There are also psychological side effects of oversleeping, including depression, anxiety, and drowsiness. Your doctor can treat these side effects by suggesting adjustments to your sleeping habits, your daily habits, or by prescribing certain medications.
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    Get tested for sleep disorders. There are many medical conditions and disorders that can interfere with sleep. Let your doctor know about specific symptoms or patterns in your sleep issues. If you can’t get up in the morning due to oversleeping, have difficulty staying awake while sitting still, fall asleep while driving, and require caffeine every day to stay awake, you may have a sleep disorder. There are four main types of sleep disorders:[17]
    • Insomnia: The most common sleep complaint and a major cause of oversleeping. Insomnia is often a symptom of another issue, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or another health condition. It can also be caused by lifestyle choices, like medication you take, a lack of exercise, jet lag, or your caffeine intake.
    • Sleep apnea: This occurs when your breathing temporarily stops during sleep due to a blockage in your upper airways. These pauses in breathing interrupt your sleep, leading to many awakenings throughout the night. Sleep apnea is a serious, and potentially life threatening sleep disorder. If you suffer from this disorder, it’s important to talk to a doctor and get a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. This device delivers a stream of air to your airways while you sleep and can successfully treat the disorder.
    • Restless leg syndrome: (RLS) is a sleep disorder caused by an irresistible urge to move your arms and legs. This urge usually occurs when you’re lying down and is due to uncomfortable, tingly sensations in your arms and legs.
    • Narcolepsy: This sleep disorder often involves excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness. It is caused by a dysfunction of the mechanism in your brain that controls sleeping and waking. If you have narcolepsy, you may have "sleep attacks" where you fall asleep in the middle of talking, working, or even driving.

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    Talk to your doctor about attending a sleep center. If your doctor refers you to a sleep center, a specialist will observe your sleep patterns, brain waves, heart rate, and rapid eye movement with monitoring devices attached to your body. The sleep specialist will analyze the results from your sleep study and design a custom treatment program.[18]
    • A sleep center can also provide you with equipment to monitor your activities while awake and asleep, at home.

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