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Oversleeping - Is it bad to sleep too much?

Updated: 19/08/2022
12 Min
Malthe Holm
Malthe Holm

Oversleeping - Is it bad to sleep too much?

Updated: 19/08/2022
12 Min
Malthe Holm
Malthe Holm

Table of Contents


In movies, TV shows, and even from your friends, it's commonplace to hear people boasting about how little sleep they managed to get in the night.

You probably also often hear that you must compromise on your sleep to achieve anything in this world.

But you probably never hear people brag about sleeping too much.

You may think sleeping too much is a luxury problem compared to involuntary sleep deprivation.

If you involuntarily sleep too little, you probably wish you could sleep too much instead.

If you sleep too much and still feel exhausted, you might wish you could be the show-off instead.

According to them, only five hours of sleep are required for adequate performance.

But can you sleep too much?

Here at Luneeo, we've personally been through both worlds.

But if we had to choose between being sleep deprived or oversleeping.

So if we only If they had two choices, we would choose to sleep too much. Why is that?

There's an excellent reason for that - Sleep deprivation is one of the unhealthiest things you can put yourself through. However, oversleeping isn't much better.

You are what you sleep. The more sleep you get, the more efficient and healthy you are. BUT, only up to a point.

But what are the consequences of sleeping too much? And more importantly, how can you sleep better, so you never feel like you need 10 hours?


Why is it so bad to sleep too much?

Sleep is an essential part of life. It gives the body all the rest it needs to function correctly. But too much sleep can be just as harmful to your health as not getting enough sleep. Sleeping too much can lead to lower productivity, lower quality of life, and poorer well-being.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends​1​ that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night for good health. Too much sleep can lead to various health risks, including but not limited to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.

If you sleep too much, you will feel tired, sluggish, and forgetful all day long.

So how much sleep is too much?

Scientifically, there is no universally accepted answer to what the optimal amount of sleep should be for you.

Because it varies from person to person.

Therefore, there is no definitive answer to what is too much.

However, adults should sleep between 7-9 hours. For some people, this figure may be lower or higher. Sleeping more than 9 hours a night may be appropriate for young adults, people recovering from sleep deprivation, and people with illnesses.​2​

Many factors affect how many hours of sleep a person needs.

It may even differ for different days (individuals often need more sleep when stressed).

But when you sleep more than 9 hours a night, this can be a sign of, not getting enough REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.​3​

And too little REM sleep means the brain doesn't have enough time to process memories and repair itself during its recharge duration. Too little REM sleep can also disrupt your body's natural circadian rhythm, which controls your alertness and energy level every day.

Those who need more than 9-12 hours of sleep are at risk of developing health problems, such as a weakened immune system, obesity​4​ and diabetes​5​.

You should always adhere to your physician's instructions if you have known health problems.

What are the consequences of sleeping too much?

Now that we have established that you can sleep too much, what are the consequences of sleeping too much?

Too much sleep can also affect our mental health.

People who sleep more than 9 hours a day are more likely to have depression or stress than those who sleep less than 9 hours a day.

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences​6​ found that many people who sleep more than 9 hours a day actually have a higher mortality rate.

The study was conducted on data from more than one million nurses who had recorded their sleep habits over the past 17 years.

Researchers were surprised that those who slept 9 hours or more had a higher mortality rate than those who slept 6 to 8 hours.

People who sleep 9 hours or more each night are about 8 percent more likely to die prematurely from any cause than those who sleep less than 7 hours a day.

Why do I sleep so much?

People spend a third of their lives sleeping. It's an essential part of everyday life, and we feel deprived when we don't sleep properly. As we all probably know, sleeping at least 7 hours a day is necessary.

But many people sleep more than 10 hours a day. The reasons behind this can vary from person to person, but they can be due to the following:

Psychological causes:

  • Mental disorders can have a profound effect on a person's sleep.
  • People with depression have an increased risk of sleep problems.

Physical causes:

  • An underlying medical condition that is causing the problem.
  • Alcohol can disrupt the timing and quality of sleep, resulting in a lack of deep sleep that makes you feel tired and groggy.
  • Not exercising enough can harm serotonin levels in your brain, which often will result in fatigue and an altered circadian rhythm.
  • Chronic pain that disturbs sleep can be challenging to cope with and therefore affects the quality and duration of one's sleep.

Poor sleep habits:

  • Poor sleep hygiene can lead to oversleeping.
  • Blue light from a mobile phone can affect the quality of your sleep. The blue light from a smartphone can affect your circadian rhythm and disrupt your sleep patterns.
  • Irregular bedtimes can have adverse effects on your circadian rhythm.
  • Staying up later at the weekend, just because you can, will affect your sleep for the rest of the week.
  • Drinking coffee too late in the day can affect your circadian rhythm. Avoid coffee 8 hours before you go to sleep.

Disturbing environment:

  • Lots of noise can lead to sleep disturbances. For example, it will be difficult to fall asleep if you live in a city or near an airport. You'll be thrown out of your deep sleep, which you won't even notice.
  • Artificial light from street lamps, buildings, and other lights can significantly reduce sleep quality. That's because the brain is tricked into thinking it's daytime outside. Artificial light can be detrimental to one's sleep cycle and lead to a lack of mental clarity and concentration the following day.

Other reasons:

  • Shift workers often find it challenging to get their sleep cycle back on track.
  • If you travel frequently and there are time zone differences.
  • A bad mattress can cause you to sleep too much and not get enough deep sleep.

What are the symptoms of sleeping too much?

Oversleeping is a common problem that affects a person's quality of life. It can lead to a lack of energy and focus, depression, and mood swings.

The most common signs are extreme fatigue, even with enough sleep. Sleeping too much can also harm your relationship and work life.

Oversleeping can be very serious and can lead to some unpleasant consequences in the long term. Consult your doctor if you think you are sleeping too much.

Some of the typical symptoms may include:

  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • General fatigue
  • Feeling sleepy during the day
  • Tiredness directly after waking up.
  • Headache​7​ when you wake up in the morning
  • Drowsiness in the afternoon.
  • Mood swings

Sleep disorders and other illnesses that can cause you to sleep too much

Sleep disorders are prevalent. Often they are not diagnosed because people cannot always tell if their sleep is abnormal.

If you feel you are sleeping too much or have noticed symptoms that may signal a sleep disorder, it is time to consult your doctor about the problem.

Many conditions can cause you to sleep more than the recommended hours; some of the most common sleep disorders are

  • Narcolepsy​8​: Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep-related cataplexy.
  • Idiopathic hypersomnia​9​: Hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) is caused by neurotransmitter dysfunction that causes the brain to produce large amounts of melatonin. It often leads to severe fatigue and can last for months or years.
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder​10​: REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is when people act out their dreams during REM sleep and can easily harm themselves or their partner; they also experience sleep deprivation during the day due to RBD.
  • Restless legs​11​: Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) causes an irresistible urge to move your legs, which worsens at night while trying to go to bed.
  • Sleep apnea​12​: Sleep apnoea is a condition in which breathing starts and stops at night. Sleep apnoea occurs when a blockage in the airways causes people to stop breathing for short periods.
  • Severely overweight:​13​ Being overweight can affect your sleep, leading to poor circulation and congestive heart failure. Obesity will also cause more pressure on your joints and less blood flow to your brain, which means you won't ultimately get quality sleep.

How much sleep is required for optimal health?

The short answer is 7-9 hours if you are an adult.

But it varies throughout one's adult life and from person to person. However, it is abnormal to be healthy for less than 7 hours, and the same is true for more than 9 hours.

However, it isn't easy to persuade someone that less than seven hours of sleep is sufficient, especially when life is in full swing.

A good night's sleep is central to a healthy life. It is in the same category as water and food. The consequences can't be felt directly, like if you forgot to drink water for a whole day. But the effects will catch up with you over time if not addressed in time.

The data underlying the claims below is supported by more than 17,000 thoroughly reviewed scientific reports available to us today.

  • Sleep can give you a longer life.
  • Sleep strengthens your memory and increases your creativity.
  • It makes you physically more attractive.
  • It helps you to keep a slim line and reduces your urge to eat.
  • It protects you against cancer and dementia.
  • It keeps colds and flu at bay.
  • It reduces your risk of heart attack and blood clots.
  • Sleep will even make you happier, less depressed, and less worried.

What can I do to sleep better?

It's not always easy to sleep better, but there are some things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. Here are some tips to help you sleep better:

In the bedroom:

Invest time and money in making your bedroom a place where sleep is a priority.

  • A bed that fits your unique body (and your partners) doesn't have to disagree with your wallet. And a quality top mattress to go with it. The mattress topper is usually overlooked; instead, spend 30-40 % of the budget on the mattress topper. You get more quality for the money.
  • A quality pillow for your head. Maybe even one between your knees and shoulders if you have back or shoulder pain. If you have neck pain, use a specially shaped pillow.
  • Let your bed be sacred; it's made for sleeping and maybe one other thing.
  • Remember to ventilate daily.
  • Remember to clean the bedroom thoroughly, not just the areas where your guests will be. Some people are more sensitive to dust mites than others, and these little creatures can disturb your sleep.
  • It should be dark when you sleep. Get a blackout curtain and hang it up, so no light gets in. If you can see your hand in the outstretched position, it's not dark enough.
  • If it doesn't get dark enough, get a quality sleep mask that doesn't let in light.
  • It would be best if you did not try to get used to noise from your partner or outside. You may be able to fall asleep, but if the noise continues even after you have fallen asleep, it will disturb your deep sleep. As a result, you will not get quality sleep. Therefore, invest in a pair of comfortable earplugs of high quality.
  • The optimal bedroom temperature is ultimately a matter of taste, but a good rule is that it should ideally be around 16 - 18 degrees. It should feel cozy and like the only place you need to be right now.

In the home in general:

  • Ventilation and cleaning are essential for a healthy indoor climate.
  • Fill your home with plants that give off oxygen during the night.

Sleeping habits and sleep rituals

Have a sleep ritual every night before bed so it becomes an event you look forward to after a day surrounded by people.

  • Get used to going to bed at the same time every day. (Weekends too)
  • Get used to getting up at the same time every day. (Weekends too)
  • Get used to waking up with the alarm, avoiding the tempting snooze button.
  • Get used to not using your phone or computer in bed.

Diet and training:

  • Watch your diet. A healthy diet can lead to better sleep!
  • Cut down on sugar and caffeine as much as you can without it feeling like you're punishing yourself.
  • It would be best to reduce alcohol consumption as it can disrupt your sleep cycle.
  • Take regular exercise. It doesn't take much for your body to thank you.

During the day:

  • Avoid sugar and caffeine as much as possible before bed. It would be best to avoid caffeine altogether about 8 hours before bedtime.
  • Complete the necessary tasks for a given day so that they are not on your mind when you go to sleep. If you couldn't do everything, you did what you could and significantly reduced your "to do" thoughts.

Just before bedtime:

  • Dim the lights before bed, so you trigger your body to think it's sleep time.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and vigorous exercise too late in the evening.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals before bedtime.
  • Put screens away at least an hour before bedtime.

Right after you wake up:

  • Open the curtains as quickly as possible and let the air out simultaneously.
  • Get a healthy dose of sunlight (or artificial) every morning after waking to help regulate your circadian rhythm.
  • Get out the door as soon as you're ready to face the day. The longer you wait, the faster you'll get tired.

If you toss and turn and cannot sleep, try these tips.

Try this if you're having trouble falling asleep and are sick of counting sheep.

  • Focus on your breathing and take deep breaths.
  • You can also try listening to soothing music or reading a book.
  • Get out of bed and do something that relaxes you.
  • Write down your thoughts, especially if they are things that worry you or if they are things you need to achieve.
  • If it is too hot, open a window or turn down the thermostat.
  • Don't even think about going online or using your phone.

If this is something that happens to you frequently, you should make an effort to meditate right before you go to sleep. It will assist you in settling your thoughts and becoming more relaxed. However, it may take some time before you become accustomed to meditating.

If you wake up during the night

If you find that you wake up more frequently than you believe is reasonable, the following suggestions may help you get through the night without waking up.

  • Don't eat a heavy meal before you go to bed.
  • Avoid going to bed when you are starving or just at the point when you are about to feel hungry.
  • Consider whether the problem is due to the bedroom being too hot, cold, bright, or noisy. All of these are possible explanations.
  • Cut down on liquids before bed if you need to visit the toilet at night.
  • You might enjoy a wine or two after dinner, which might help you fall asleep, but they might also wake you up at night.
  • If you suffer from a sleep disorder or another form of illness, this may play a part in you waking up so often.

You can sleep too much. But even if you sleep more than 9 hours, it doesn't necessarily mean you sleep too much.

If you regularly sleep more than 9 hours, you may not get enough REM sleep, and you may have an underlying sleep diagnosis causing you to sleep so much.

However, you are more likely to be disturbed in the middle of your sleep by the surrounding bedroom environment, affecting your REM and deep sleep. Your inability to sleep could be caused by the light, sound, temperature, dust, your mattress, and other bedroom objects.

However, I should note that sleeping longer than 9 hours is customary if you frequently exercise, and it may even be beneficial.​14​

Consult your doctor if you sleep too much, and it is not due to external bills that you can easily do something about yourself.

You should always adhere to your physician's instructions if you have known health problems.

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