Oversleeping: Here’s What You Need To Know

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oversleeping woman

A long luxurious morning in bed can feel like heaven. Maybe you wake up at your usual time but drift off for another hour — or three. Extra sleep feels good, but as with many other pleasures, you can get too much of a good thing. Oversleeping can cause short-term symptoms and long-term issues. It can even make you more tired! Read on to learn how much sleep is too much and for help finding your perfect balance.

Long Story Short

  • Oversleeping can cause headaches and can even make you more tired during the day.
  • If you need more than 10 hours of sleep several nights in a row, an underlying health condition may be affecting your sleep quality.
  • Sleeping too much has been associated with health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and even a shorter life.
  • Excessive sleep can arise from conditions like narcolepsy, hypersomnia, insomnia, and mental health disorders.
  • You can stop oversleeping by adopting good sleep hygiene, setting morning and evening alarms, and seeing a healthcare provider to rule out other causes.

What Is Oversleeping?  

The concept of oversleeping — too much sleep — may sound like an impossibility. After all, sleep maintains your immune system, balances your metabolism, removes toxins from your brain, and rebuilds tissue. (1,2) How can you get too much of that? 

“Sleep need is highly individual and can change with age,” Dr. Chester Wu, MD, sleep medicine physician, tells Sleepopolis. Experts agree that adults aged 18 to 60 need seven or more hours of sleep per night, and adults over age 60 may need a max of eight or nine hours. (3

Sometimes you need more sleep than your norm, says Wu. He says factors that call for extra snoozing include:

  • Extra physical exertion
  • A need to make up for lost sleep
  • When you’re fighting an illness or infection

Special conditions like these can lead to a true demand for added zzzs, but what if you sleep too much without a good reason?

Oversleeping Symptoms

Your body can give you clues if you’re overdoing it in the sleep department. Symptoms of too much sleep can look like the following:

Sleep Inertia Defined

Sleep inertia describes feeling groggy when you wake up. Too much sleep inertia can slow your brain’s ability to process information and makes it harder to hit the ground running. (4)

Oversleeping symptoms can be very individual and depend on other health conditions. For example, if you have chronic back pain, extra sleep may intensify your discomfort. Others may wake with a headache from sleeping too much if they cope with frequent headaches in general. 

How Much Is Too Much 

If too much sleep can cause negative symptoms, your next question may be: how much is too much? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends adults get at least seven hours, but doesn’t offer guidance on when to cap it. (5

One study found oversleepers slept longer, but also took longer to fall asleep and spent more time in REM sleep, a sleep stage that helps consolidate memory. (6,7) The same study claims you cannot sleep more than 10 hours per day on a regular basis because your body won’t let you. If you sleep more than 10 hours for more than a night or two, Wu recommends speaking to a healthcare professional.

Is Oversleeping Bad for You? 

Oversleeping can be necessary or harmful, depending on the cause. Young people and those recovering from illness and sleep deprivation may need more than nine or 10 hours of sleep a night temporarily, as Wu noted. (8)

But if you’re not a teenager in the middle of a growth spurt, or recovering from an illness, oversleeping can be a problem. Consistent extra sleep can be a sign of poor sleep efficiency, which means spending a lot of time in bed but not sleeping well. (9) It can also keep your brain from functioning at its best and cause health complications we’ll get into below. (9)

Does Oversleeping Make You Tired? 

“Sleeping for longer than you usually do can make you feel tired, but it’s important to understand the cause,” says Wu. Fatigue after plenty of sleep could be a symptom of a medical issue. (9)

“Generally, however, a longer than usual sleep has the potential to disrupt your sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm), which can lead to feelings of fatigue during the day,” Wu says. Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock that lets you know it’s time to sleep and wake. (10)

Long Sleeping vs. Oversleeping

There is a difference between oversleeping and simply being a long sleeper. A long sleeper needs a bit more sleep than the average person — say, 10 to 12 hours each night — while an oversleeper is someone who sleeps more than they need. Here’s an easy rule of thumb to figure out which category you may fall into: A long sleeper should feel energetic and refreshed during the day, but a person who overslept would likely experience the side effects outlined above. 

Causes of Oversleeping

Sometimes you just need a good, long, night of rest. But if you find you need more than nine or ten hours regularly, something more may be going on. Causes of oversleeping often fall under two categories: sleep disorders and mental health disorders.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders can cause all kinds of sleep chaos that lead to oversleeping. Some common sleep disorders include: (11)

  • Circadian Rhythm Disorders: internal clock conflicts with cues from your environment (12)
  • Hypersomnia: a neurological disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness 
  • Insomnia: the inability to fall and stay asleep
  • Narcolepsy: extreme daytime drowsiness and sudden spells of sleep 
  • Sleep apnea: interruption of breathing during sleep by physical airway blockage or brain signal malfunction

Any condition that keeps you from getting solid rest will prompt your body to catch up on sleep.

Mental Health Disorders

You don’t have to have a sleep disorder to experience oversleeping. Mental health issues can also make you sleep too much. Some common sleep-disrupting mental health disorders are: (13)

  • Anxiety
  • Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (14)

One study found people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were more likely to experience sleep disorders than those with other mental health disorders. (13) Additionally, depression and anxiety are well-established sleep disruptors. (15)

Seasonal Changes 

If you live anywhere but the equator, your days will be longer in summer and shorter in winter. This change in light patterns can affect your circadian rhythm, leading to confusion in your normal sleep schedule. To catch up, you may find yourself oversleeping in these times of transition. (16)

Complications of Oversleeping

Grabbing a few extra hours of slumber works well to pay off sleep debt or recover from an illness. But what happens if it lingers on and on? Oversleeping has been connected with several health problems, says Wu. He adds research has not proven oversleeping causes these conditions, but is associated with the following: (17)

How on earth can too much sleep lead to death? Well, in addition to the list above, oversleeping is also associated with generalized inflammation. 

Inflammation is your body’s normal response to an injury or illness. But if it goes on too long, this swelling and irritation can damage tissues in your body. This in turn can lead to conditions that increase your risk of fatal conditions. (17,18) However, such instances are not common and typically only occur with a lot of oversleeping, so don’t panic if you find yourself sleeping more than you usually do for a few days.

How to Stop Oversleeping

“The best way to ‘prevent oversleeping’ is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule that allows you to get enough sleep nightly,” says Wu. “That way, you’re less likely to need longer [periods of] sleep when your body tries to catch up on the sleep it’s missed out on.” 

Wu recommends these tips to stop oversleeping:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and meals close to bedtime. 
  • Ensure your sleep environment is conducive to good sleep (cool, dark, and quiet).
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Make sure the sleep you get is healthy, “efficient” sleep — that means most of the time spent in bed is actually spent sleeping.
  • Set a morning and evening alarm — the morning alarm to wake you up at a reasonable time, and the evening alarm to avoid staying up too late and throwing off your sleep schedule. 
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. 

“If oversleeping continues to be a problem,” Wu says, “it would be worth discussing with a healthcare provider to rule out underlying conditions.” Experts also recommend avoiding naps too close to bedtime.

How to Recover From Sleeping Too Much

If you’ve already slept too much and you’re feeling the results, you can take action to recover. For symptoms like headache, backache, or neck aches: (19)

  • Ask your healthcare provider about medications
  • Do gentle stretches to loosen the painful area
  • Drink a small amount of caffeine 
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Try alternating hot and cold packs to the area, 20 minutes each

If you wake up tired and can’t perk up, you can try these tips:

  • Get out in the sun
  • Grab a cup of caffeinated coffee or tea
  • Splash water on your face
  • Take a brisk walk

If your oversleeping is caused by a medical condition or a mental health issue, you may need your provider to weigh in. Depending on the cause, they can help you find the right treatment to get your sleep back on track. 


What is a long sleeper?

A long sleeper needs more sleep than the average Joe. The symptoms and causes above don’t necessarily apply to long sleepers, because their sleep need comes from a well-functioning circadian rhythm. (20)

Can sleeping too much make you tired?

“Sleeping for longer than you usually do can make you feel tired, but it’s important to understand the cause,” says Wu. Fatigue after plenty of sleep could be a symptom of a medical issue. (9)

How much is too much sleep?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends adults get at least seven hours, but doesn’t offer guidance on when to cut your sleep off. (5) If you sleep more than 10 hours for more than a night or two, Wu recommends speaking to a healthcare professional.

The Last Word From Sleepopolis 

For the most part, it’s hard to sleep too long. Your body usually knows when it needs sleep, and you can follow its lead. But if you start to notice the symptoms listed above and need more than nine or 10 hours of sleep on the reg, you may want to try a few of our tips or speak with your provider. You have quite a few options to sleep just the right amount and wake up refreshed.


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Abby McCoy

Abby McCoy

Abby McCoy is an RN of 16 years who has worked with adults and pediatric patients encompassing trauma, orthopedics, home care, transplant, and case management. She has practiced nursing all over the world from San Fransisco, CA to Tharaka, Kenya. Abby loves spending time with her husband, four kids, and their cat named Cat.