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While the odd morning sleep-in feels like a much-needed treat, oversleeping can become a dangerous habit, one that has been linked to multiple medical conditions.

If you think you may be overtired from getting too much sleep, try our helpful sleep-regulating tactics and discuss your sleep patterns with your physician.

How Much is ‘Too Much’?

Your body’s need for sleep changes as you age. It also depends on daytime activity, routine, lifestyle, and general health.

During a phase of increased stress or sickness, for instance, you may feel like you need more sleep to feel rested.

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Sleep cycles vary for individuals over time, but doctors recommend that adults average 7 to 10 hours of shut-eye each night.

If you regularly sleep more than the standard 8 hours nightly, but still wake up feeling sluggish, it may be time to consider the causes and health effects of habitual oversleeping.

You may be able to resolve the issue independently, but if not, your physician can help you to normalize your sleep pattern.

What Causes Oversleeping?

For many people, oversleeping characterizes hypersomnia, a medical disorder that leads to a feeling of daytime tiredness, which is not relieved by napping. Hypersomnia is, by definition, the opposite of insomnia, but its debilitating effects are similar: too much sleep can lead to or worsen anxiety, low energy, and memory difficulties.

Not everyone who oversleeps, however, suffers from a chronic sleep disorder. In some cases, tiredness may result from interrupted sleep cycles at night. Oversleeping can also result from your body’s struggle to adapt to late shift work, jetlag due to time zone changes, alcohol consumption, or the use of certain prescribed medications.

During the winter months, oversleeping may be a symptom of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)— also known as the ‘winter blues’, which are thought to result from a lack of exposure to sunlight.

It’s possible for larger health issues to result from your inability to feel adequately rested and vice versa— sleep problems are sometimes caused by underlying medical conditions that are seemingly unrelated.

If you can’t determine the root of your own desire to sleep more than the standard 8 hours, your physician may be able to make a clearer diagnosis. Once diagnosed, the treatment of that disease or medical condition could lead to the restoration of your regular sleep pattern.

Health Effects of Too Much Sleep

Habitual oversleeping can affect the following health concerns:

  • Obesity:

    Irregular sleep habits— too much sleep or too little— are sometimes responsible for changes in body weight. Too much sleep leads to a lack of daytime activity, which results in steady, unplanned weight gain.

    Researchers recently reported that people who slept for 9 or 10 hours every night were 21% more likely to become obese over a six-year period than people who slept for the recommended 7 or 8 hours.[1] In this study, the direct link between oversleeping and obesity remained the same, even when food intake and exercise were considered.

  • Headaches:

    Some people suffer from headaches as a result of oversleeping. Doctors believe this may be linked to the effects of oversleeping on chemicals in the brain.

  • Back Pain:

    Chronic sufferers know that lying down for too long can aggravate a bad back. While exercise should be modified or restrained during a flare-up, oversleeping is not recommended; a certain level of daytime movement is helpful for most conditions.

  • Diabetes:

    Studies indicate that too much or too little sleep can increase a person’s risk of diabetes, which may also be related to obesity.

  • Depression:

    Depression is often associated with insomnia, but approximately 15% of sufferers report sleeping too much. Regulated sleep habits play an important part in any healing process, including depression, thus the proper amount of nightly rest is needed for recovery.

  • Heart disease:

    While the rationale for the link between oversleeping and heart disease has not yet been identified, studies show that a connection exists.

    The Nurses’ Health Study, which surveyed 72,000 women, indicates that women who slept between 9 and 11 hours at night were 38% more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease than women who slept for the standard 8 hours.[2]

Self-help for Over-sleepers

If you don’t suffer from an underlying medical condition, the key to rediscovering a healthy sleep cycle is structure. Break your oversleeping habit by establishing a firmer routine.

Forcing yourself to follow a scheduled bedtime at night and waking to a morning alarm will eventually reset your body’s natural clock. Moderate exercise during the day will also help you to regulate sleep patterns.

Additionally, doctors recommend that you refrain from alcohol use and caffeine consumption at night. For a more gradual approach to cutting back on sleep, try to curtail your sleep hours over the course of a week. Wake up one hour earlier each day until your total nightly sleep time equals the target 8-hour maximum.


How many hours of sleep are enough for good health? (2013)

Physical Effects of Oversleeping. (2014)

Sleep: Hypersomnia. (2014)

[1] Physical Effects of Oversleeping. (2014)

[2] Physical Effects of Oversleeping. (2014)