The Surprising Link Between Depression and Oversleeping: What You Need to Know

Is oversleeping a sign of depression? It’s something we have all wondered– Is getting too much shut-eye a sign that something else may be going on in our lives? In this article we will tackle this important question, taking a close look at how oversleeping is connected to or even symptomatic of depression.

We’ll also explore what other mental health issues might be related to deficiencies in sleep and why it’s important for us all to get a good night’s rest. So let’s dive into this hot topic together and find out if it is true– Is oversleeping a sign of depression?

Is Oversleeping A Sign Of Depression?

It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep is important for our overall health and well-being. But what if you find yourself sleeping too much? Is oversleeping a sign of depression? This is an important question to answer, as deficiencies in sleep can be linked to mental health issues.

Oversleeping and Depression: What the Research Says

Research has shown that there is a link between oversleeping and depression. Studies have discovered that people who sleep too much are more likely to be diagnosed with or suffer from depression than those who get just enough sleep.

Another study found that people with depression often experience difficulty getting to sleep and difficulty staying asleep. As well as extended periods of time spent in bed during the night, which can contribute to oversleeping.

A recent study conducted in Canada found that those with major depressive disorder were more likely to suffer from excessive sleepiness compared to healthy controls. Additionally, research published in Psychiatry Research suggests that individuals with depression are more likely to report long sleep duration and short latency—that is, difficulty falling asleep. 

It’s important to note, however, that while oversleeping may be a sign of depression, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have depression if you’re sleeping too long. Oversleeping can also be caused by other mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and trauma. It can also be related to physical health issues such as sleep apnea or other medical conditions like thyroid problems.

The Connection Between Sleep and Mental Health

It’s clear that there is a connection between the amount of sleep we get and our mental health. When we don’t get enough sleep, it can have a significant impact on our mood, energy levels, concentration, and overall well-being. On the other hand, oversleeping can also lead to feelings of fatigue, lack of motivation, and problems with focus– all of which are symptoms people often experience when dealing with depression.

Research has found that getting more sleep than what’s recommended for your age group (7-9 hours of sleep for adults) can actually increase your risk of developing depression. So while it’s important to ensure we’re getting enough rest each night, it’s also important that we don’t oversleep as this could lead to an increased likelihood of feeling down and depressed.

Can Depression Make You Oversleep

It’s no secret that depression can make you feel exhausted. In fact, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of depression. But what you may not know is that depression can also cause you to oversleep.

Depression and Oversleeping

Depression can cause a number of different symptoms, one of which is oversleeping. When someone is depressed, they may find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning or may sleep for long periods during the day. This can be extremely detrimental to their health and well-being.

There are a number of reasons why depression can lead to oversleeping. One reason is that people who are depressed may have difficulty regulating their sleep patterns. This means that they may find it hard to fall asleep at night and may wake up frequently during the night.

As a result, they may sleep for long periods during the day in an attempt to make up for lost sleep.

Another reason why depression can cause oversleeping is that people who are depressed may have low levels of energy. This can make it difficult for them to get out of bed in the morning and can also lead to them feeling exhausted during the day. As a result, they may turn to sleep as a way to escape from their fatigue.

People who are depressed may also have negative thoughts and feelings about themselves.

These negative thoughts can make it difficult for them to motivate themselves to do anything, including getting out of bed in the morning. As a result, they may find themselves sleeping for long periods of time as a way to avoid facing their problems head-on.

5 Causes of Depression-Related Oversleeping 

Most of us can relate to lazing around on the couch, sleeping in the early morning hours. But when oversleeping becomes a regular, daily, or even multiple times a day occurrence, it could be an indication that something is off. While it’s true that ample sleep is essential for proper functioning and may even improve your overall mood, too much sleep can actually have a hand in instigating depression. 

1. Circadian Rhythm Delay:

One of the main causes of depression-related oversleeping is a delay in the circadian rhythm. This is the body’s internal clock which helps to regulate when we naturally feel awake and when we are ready to sleep.

Circadian rhythm shouldn't be disrupted

When someone has depression, this internal clock may be out of sync and can lead to oversleeping. This is because they may struggle to wake up in the morning and find it difficult to stay alert throughout the day.

2. Sleep as an Escape:

Another reason why people with depression may experience oversleeping is that they are using it as a form of escape. According to Dr. Drerup, some people who are depressed may not have anything to look forward to so they opt for sleeping instead. In this case, oversleeping can become a coping mechanism for managing depression symptoms.

3. Sleep Apnea:

Sleep apnea is commonly seen in individuals with depression due to their difficulty regulating their breathing patterns while asleep. In these cases, an individual often experiences non-restorative sleep that does not allow for them to reach the deeper stages of sleep needed for restful nights.

As a result, people may find themselves struggling to get enough hours of quality rest leading them to oversleep in an attempt to ‘catch up’ on lost sleep time. 

4. Fragmented Sleep:

For those with depression, fragmented and disrupted sleep can also contribute to oversleeping. Dr. Drerup states that those with depression often don’t get into deeper stages of REM sleep, meaning they don’t benefit from all of its restorative qualities even when they do manage 8+ hours of rest each night. As a result, they end up feeling exhausted no matter how many hours they have slept and seek out more sleep during the day in order to make up for what was lost at night.

5. Hormonal Changes: 

Depression can also cause hormonal changes within the body which can further throw off one’s regular sleeping patterns leading to oversleeping. According to research conducted by The American Psychological Association (APA), depression has been linked with lowered levels of serotonin and norepinephrine; two hormones responsible for maintaining healthy sleeping habits.

When too little or too much of either one is present it can result in disrupted sleeping cycles causing increased levels of fatigue and irregular sleeping times. 

4 Other Causes of Oversleeping

Oversleeping is not exclusive to individuals with depression, it can also occur in people who do not suffer from the disorder. The causes of oversleeping for these individuals may vary, but some cases can be attributed to lifestyle and environmental factors.

Understanding your own sleeping patterns and behaviors is essential for learning how to manage any potential issues or concerns associated with oversleeping. By doing so, you will be able to identify any changes and address them accordingly.

1. Medications:

Certain medications used to treat depression and other mental health issues can lead to oversleeping. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can cause drowsiness and fatigue in some people, leading them to sleep longer than usual.

Other medications that may have a sedative effect on the body, such as sleeping pills, anti-anxiety drugs, or antipsychotics, can also contribute to oversleeping.

2. Age:

As we age our sleeping patterns tend to change naturally. Older adults may find themselves sleeping longer than they used to while younger people may struggle with getting enough hours of restful sleep. As a result, people of any age can experience oversleeping if their natural sleeping habits are disrupted due to lifestyle changes or medical conditions.

3. Hormonal Imbalances:

Hormonal imbalances within the body can also lead to irregular sleeping habits which might manifest as periods of oversleeping during the day or night. Hormones play an important role in regulating our metabolism and energy levels. So when they become imbalanced it can lead us to feel tired more often which could result in us attempting to get extra sleep in order to make up for it.

Hormonal activity can disrupt sleep

Additionally, imbalances of certain hormones related directly to sleep cycles like melatonin could disrupt our regular sleeping rhythms leading us into periods of oversleeping on a regular basis.

4. Stress: 

High-stress levels from work, school, or personal matters can cause individuals to lack motivation or enthusiasm toward life. This makes it difficult for them to stay awake throughout the day and leads them into extended bouts of napping. They may even have a full night’s worth of sleep during daylight hours instead of at night time when it’s more typical for humans who don’t suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders too.

Stressful situations can also leave us feeling mentally and physically exhausted. This increases our need for additional hours each night leading us into periods where we end up sleeping more than what’s considered “normal” amounts by doctors and scientists alike.

4 Sleep-Related Problems That Are Associated With Depression

Depression and sleep problems often go hand in hand, as difficulty sleeping can worsen the symptoms of depression and vice versa. Common sleep-related issues associated with depression include:

1. Insomnia

Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep or waking up too early in the morning. Research has suggested that insomnia is present in up to 80% of people suffering from depression.

The effects of insomnia on depression are further aggravated when someone experiences an episode of insomnia for several nights in a row. This can lead to fatigue, irritability, and other physical and mental health issues that may amplify depressive symptoms like rumination or a general lack of motivation.

2. Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is the opposite problem – excessive daytime sleepiness leads to excessive napping during the day. It typically involves difficulty waking up after a night’s rest and feeling lethargic throughout the day despite getting enough hours of sleep.

Hypersomnia has been found to be more common among people with bipolar disorder than those with unipolar depression, but it can still affect both conditions. It can interfere with daily activities, making it harder to carry out everyday tasks while managing depressive symptoms at the same time.

3. Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is another significant issue that impacts those living with depression. RLS is described as an urge to move one’s legs due to sensations like creeping, tingling, burning, or itching within them. This is often worse during periods of rest or inactivity such as lying down at night or sitting for long periods of time throughout the day.

This disturbs nighttime sleep even if someone’s circadian rhythm isn’t disrupted. This then further exacerbates their existing depressive symptoms as well as creates new ones since sleep deprivation can contribute to depressive states itself.

4. Disrupted Circadian Rhythm

Finally, disruption of one’s circadian rhythm can be an effect of depression itself regardless of whether someone has RLS or not. This refers to an internal clock that tells us when we should feel sleepy and alert throughout the day depending on our personal rhythms.

Disruption usually comes in the form of delayed phase syndrome where someone feels most alert late at night into early morning hours which then leads to difficulties falling asleep – further worsening their insomnia if they had it prior – as well as preventing them from being able to wake up at a reasonable hour due to feeling exhausted during normal daytime hours.

Teens And Oversleeping Problem

Oversleeping is an issue that many teenagers struggle with understanding. It can be difficult to discern whether it is a result of depression or simply the natural process of growing up. While some teenagers may be able to identify when their oversleeping is symptomatic of depression, others will find it more difficult to understand what’s going on.

Studies like those conducted by Dr. Drerup suggest that teens who are depressed tend to sleep longer than their peers and have trouble finding a balance between feeling energized and sleeping too much. Oftentimes, these teens feel tired during the day and need more rest than other people do in order to function properly. This could potentially lead to various issues such as poor performance in school or difficulty managing daily tasks.

Is oversleeping a sign of depression? Teens requires more sleep

A key indicator for determining if oversleeping is due to depression is if there has been a recent change in sleeping patterns. For example, if the teen suddenly finds themselves needing more sleep than usual or finds themselves sleeping much longer hours than before, this may be indicative of an underlying mental health condition.

Additionally, if there have been any signs of mood change or decreased motivation – both symptomatic of depression – then this could also be an indication that certain factors are causing them to sleep too much.

In order to best understand whether oversleeping may be linked with depression, it’s important to consider all aspects of one’s life – from physical health and diet, right through psychological well-being, and lifestyle factors such as exercise habits and social activities.

Keeping track of these different areas can help paint a clearer picture when it comes to identifying any issues related to mental health conditions such as depression. With this information at hand, teens can better understand why they might be struggling with oversleeping and take steps toward finding solutions.

7 Best Strategies For Being Back On Track

If you’re struggling with depression and as a result are oversleeping, here are some strategies for getting back on track.

1. Make Sleep A Priority:

Take the time to assess your sleeping habits and make sure that you’re getting enough restful hours each night. If you find yourself not wanting to get out of bed in the mornings or can’t seem to wake up despite setting an alarm, try implementing a better sleep routine such as going to bed at the same time each night and rising earlier in the morning.

If possible, avoid using electronics before bedtime since this can disrupt one’s circadian rhythm.

2. Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene:

It is important to establish a consistent sleep routine and stick to it. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends, to help reset the body’s internal clock. Additionally, one should avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day as well as limit screen time before bed, as this stimulation can make it difficult to fall asleep.

3. Eat Healthy:

Eating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to improve mood and increase energy levels so that you’re not sleeping away the day. Avoid or limit consumption of caffeine in the late afternoon/evening since this may have an effect on one’s ability to fall asleep at night.

4. Exercise Regularly:

Physical activity has been shown to improve both mental and physical health in general, but specifically, it can be beneficial for people who are dealing with depression-related oversleeping. Exercising regularly helps regulate circadian rhythms while also promoting a better quality of sleep, making it easier for individuals to wake up feeling more refreshed in the mornings.

5. Limit Naps During The Day:

Though it may be tempting for those struggling with oversleeping due to depression to take a nap during the day. It’s important that one does not overindulge in napping because it can further disrupt the body’s natural rhythms and make them sleepy later on.

Instead of taking multiple naps throughout the day or sleeping too long when one does nap, try limiting yourself to short power naps of 20 minutes or less if you must nap at all.

6. Set an Alarm:

One strategy that can help individuals with depression-related oversleeping is setting an alarm each morning so they don’t give into temptation and sleep too long. Also, make sure that the alarm isn’t set too early so that they don’t become dependent on using it each morning or feel overwhelmed by what needs to be done when they wake up before they’re fully awake.

Additionally having someone else set their alarm for them can help them stay accountable since they won’t be able to easily snooze or turn off their alarm without getting out of bed. 

7. Get Out Of Bed Immediately When Waking Up:

Another tactic for managing oversleeping due to depression is getting out of bed immediately upon waking up. This means not giving in to any urges like laying in bed longer than necessary or checking emails/social media first thing in the morning.

This will just lead back down a path of procrastination and fatigue from a lack of productivity throughout the day due to oversleeping earlier in the morning. Instead, do something active such as stretching or going for a short walk beyond your bedroom door first thing. This will signal your brain that it is time for action despite how much energy you might have at the moment so that you don’t fall back into slumbering away your mornings again! 


All in all, oversleeping may be a sign of depression but it can also be indicative of other underlying mental health issues or physical conditions. More research is needed to fully understand the complexities behind why people sleep too much, and how those causes can be treated. While oversleeping should always be taken seriously, don’t jump to conclusions–talk to an expert if you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, who can provide professional guidance and insight into the appropriate next steps.


Sleep disorders as core symptoms of depression. (n.d.). Taylor & Francis.

Li, L., Wu, C., Gan, Y. et al. Insomnia and the risk of depression: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMC Psychiatry 16, 375 (2016).

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