Good sleep is an essential part of physical and mental health.
Sleep doesn’t just recharge you and prepare you to face another day. The right amount of sleep can also
The sweet spot for healthy sleep generally falls between
If you often don’t get the sleep you need, you’ll 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
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? We’ll explore the link between the two below.
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 won’t happen with major depression.
The link can go both ways
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.
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:
- you feel fatigued
- you have little interest in anything else
- sleep helps you temporarily escape other symptoms
Even simply lying in bed and occasionally dozing off might seem like the best way to spend your time when you don’t 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.
It’s normal to feel a little down or “blah” after sleeping in, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have depression.
Clinical depression causes persistent changes in mood that show up in most areas of life.
You might notice:
- changes in your normal energy levels
- feelings of sadness or hopelessness that don’t go away
- less interest in the activities you usually enjoy
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.
Oversleeping disrupts your usual sleep-wake cycle
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 it’s 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.
Sleeping in can derail your plans for the day
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 you’ll 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 you’ll probably have to skip one of those.
Feeling as if you’ve 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 can’t 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.
You have a sleep disorder
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:
- trouble with concentration and memory
- slowed-down thoughts or speech
- changes in appetite and weight
These symptoms are often also seen with depression. It’s 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 don’t sleep well during the night. Maybe you’re in bed for 7 to 9 hours, but your sleep is frequently disrupted by:
- outside lights or noises
- mental or physical health conditions, such as anxiety or sleep apnea
- medication side effects
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:
- oatmeal topped with fruit and yogurt
- a banana or apple with nut butter
- avocado or egg on whole-grain toast
Mild dehydration can also cause fatigue, so drinking some water might also help. (A quick splash on your face can’t hurt, either!)
Get some sun
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 it’s 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 it’s 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 don’t have any problems getting up in the morning, you probably don’t 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:
- symptoms of depression persist for longer than 1 to 2 weeks
- you don’t feel rested after any amount of sleep
- you can’t stay awake during the day
- your regular activities no longer interest you
- changes in mood begin to affect your daily life or relationships
If you need help now
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:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
- Text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.
- Call 866-488-7386 or text START to 678678 to reach a counselor from The Trevor Project for LGBTQIA+ youth
Since depression and sleep disorder symptoms can overlap, make sure to tell a professional about all of your symptoms.
Even the symptoms that don’t seem relevant — anxiety, anger, aches and pains, increased tearfulness — can help a professional figure out what’s 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
A night of good sleep usually feels pretty darn great, but oversleeping can leave you anxious, guilty, and irritable.
If you’re unable to shake a bad mood after sleeping in, calming breathing exercises or a loving-kindness meditation may help.
You can’t reclaim those lost hours, but that’s 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, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.