“Am I sleeping too much?” Typically, it’s the other way around; our sleep systems are designed to help people achieve better sleep, so we’re usually answering questions for people who are struggling to catch enough Zs. However, it’s less about whether too much sleep is bad, and more about sleeping at the right time.
In other words, it’s your classic quality vs. quantity scenario.
How much sleep is too much? Well, oversleeping is defined as someone sleeping more than 9 hours within a 24-hour cycle. It’s also known as “hypersomnia” or long sleeping. A person who oversleeps can result in a negative impact on their wellbeing and health.
Medical Conditions That May Cause Oversleeping
- Certain medication
- Thyroid Issues
- Environment Factors
- Heart Disease
- Drugs and Alcohol
- Physical Injuries
- Time Zone
Is Too Much Sleep Bad?
People's sleeping needs are different, but those needs also vary based on age and gender. The best amount of sleep for each person varies from person to person. Common side effects of oversleeping can be daytime sleepiness. But, if you are sleeping too much here and there, getting more sleep typically isn't that bad for you.
Sleep Study: The Risk of Oversleeping 
Hours of Sleep Needed by Age
How many hours of sleep do we need? Well, the recommended amount of sleep is different for each person. Below is a general baseline for the following:
- Infants (ages 0 - 3 months): 14 -17 hours of sleep per day
- Infants (ages 4 - 11 months): 12 - 15 hours of sleep per day
- Toddlers (1 - 2 years old): 11 - 14 hours of sleep per day
- Preschool (3 - 5 years old): 10 - 13 hours of sleep per day
- School-Aged Children (6 - 13 years old): 9 - 11 hours of sleep per day
- Teenagers (14 - 17 years old): 8 - 10 hours of sleep per day
- Majority of Adults: 7 - 9 hours of sleep per day
- Older Adults (65+): 7 -8 hours of sleep per day
What Happens If You Sleep Too Much?
Oversleeping can be an indicator of specific health problems. What happens if you sleep too much? Sleeping too much can occur during bouts of stress or sickness, but eventually, correct itself once those two factors fade away.
But longer-term health issues, like diabetes or heart disease, can lead to chronic oversleeping. According to webmd.com, “Researchers are careful to note, however, that two other factors—depression and low socioeconomic status—are strongly associated with oversleeping.” Subsequently, the article correlates the lower socioeconomic status with less access to healthcare—which means improperly treated (or untreated) illnesses can lead to oversleeping.
Organizations such as the National Sleep Foundation are big proponents of the 7-9 hours of sleep per night. I believe the better metric is always about quality of sleep. If you’re concerned that you’re oversleeping, take stock of your current state; if you’re sick or stressed, work to manage those factors first and see if a healthier sleep pattern returns.
If you oversleep for an extended period of time, it probably makes sense to visit a doctor. That way you can address any true medical issues at the heart of your oversleeping problem, and also make sure you don’t have more serious disorders like hypersomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, or narcolepsy.
Impact of Oversleeping
Similar to lack of sleep, oversleeping can negatively affect your overall health. The longer you sleep, the following can potentially occur:
- Frequent mental distress
- Decrease your body’s immune function
- Can potentially worsen inflammation in the body
How to Stop Oversleeping?
The good news is that various techniques are available to help you combat oversleeping. Here are a few tips that can help you from oversleeping too much. If you continue to oversleep, you may want to discuss this with your primary physician.
If you find yourself oversleeping, it can be challenging to fully understand why it's occurring. Often, the recommendation is to keep a sleep diary which can help easily record your sleep. It can help you and your physician fully understands your sleep pattern and identify sleep disruption and other factors that potentially influence sleep quality. Identifying details about the sleep habit can show ways that further explain the issues involving your sleep.
Create a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Let’s try and set aside no more than 8-hours of sleep. Having a sleep schedule will help you train your body. Being consistent helps get you back on schedule.
If you aren’t sure then give it a month, always go to bed at the same time and always wake up at the same time, even on the weekend. You may be surprised how much you sleep loves habit and consistency.
Tip: If you don’t fall asleep in the first 20 minutes, it’s recommended to leave your bedroom and try to do something relaxing.
Similar to creating a healthy sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine can do wonders! By doing so, it can create a relaxing evening leading up to sleep. This can help with falling asleep, providing quality sleep, and easier to wake up in the morning.
Your best bet is to embrace it, and develop a healthy nighttime routine, which can include the following before bed:
- Sleep Meditation
- Sleep Yoga
- Avoiding bright screens
- Trying calm activities (like reading or meditating)
- Going to bed and rising at the same time daily
- Avoiding caffeine, heavy meals, and intense physical activity
- Creating a peaceful and dark sleep space
- Use cooling mattress pads that help lower your core body temperature at peak times
- use a cooling weighted blanket
Less Naps During the Day
Sure, naps offer plenty of benefits, but taking a nap, especially when you don't need them, can make you feel over tired. Plus, taking a nap can lead to you getting too much sleep.
Take time and make sure that your bedroom is free of excess lighting, cool temperature and free of items that can affect the quality of your sleep. Studies have shown that individuals sleep better when their bedroom is optimized for noise levels, light exposure, comfort and temperature. Having a bedroom that encourages sleep can improve how you feel while awake.
Temperature can play an essential role in creating the ideal sleep environment. Learn more by reading the benefits of sleeping at cooler temperatures.
DNA Has a Big Say in Your Sleep Patterns
Potential medical issues aside, there are other factors that play a significant role in your personal sleep pattern. This starts with your chronotype (chrono = time). For years, this was broken down into two sleep types you’re probably familiar with: night owls and early birds. Keep in mind your chronotype, which is based on your PER3 gene, refers to more than just your sleep patterns; it encompasses all the primal aspects of daily life, which includes eating and sexual activity.
This 24-hour cycle is known as your circadian rhythm, an internal clock that syncs up with light and darkness, ultimately impacting far more than sleep. It controls alertness, hormone production, organ function, and even body temperature. Body temperature, specifically, plays a key role in your personal sleep pattern.
Deeper restorative sleep occurs as your body core temperature slowly drops. When it rises, you typically wake up. So by following your normal sleep cycle—instead of fighting it—you have a better chance of being at your cognitive and physical best.
Keep in mind that if you can avoid oversleeping, it helps keep your sleep cycle on track. We’ll also note that while it’s easy to group people as early birds, night owls, bears, wolves, lions, and dolphins, things are rarely that black and white; there’s a lot of grey between them, making for a vast spectrum of sleepers. That means there’s no one-size-fits-all pattern, especially considering that your patterns change with age.
If you find yourself oversleeping for short periods of time, find ways to manage stress and sickness before being too concerned. If you find yourself sleeping too much for an extended period of time, then you should probably visit a doctor to find out if there are underlying issues causing it. In the end, quality of sleep is just as important as quantity.
Léger, D., Beck, F., Richard, J. B., Sauvet, F., & Faraut, B. (2014). The risks of sleeping "too much". Survey of a National Representative Sample of 24671 adults (INPES health barometer). PloS one, 9(9), e106950. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0106950