Oversleeping: How Much Sleep is Too Much?

Oversleeping may not be bad for you. You probably need more sleep to recover from recent sleep deprivation, illness, injury, or intense exercise.
Published
2023-08-31
18 MINS
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
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Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.

Oversleeping: The Key Takeaways  

  • Oversleeping is most likely a sign of temporarily needing more sleep. You may need to recover from recent sleep loss, illness, injury, or intense exercise. 
  • If you’re regularly sleeping for 10 hours or more and still feel sleepy, speak to your doctor to rule out sleep disorders or medical conditions. 
  • The RISE app can work out how much sleep you need, so you can see if you’re actually oversleeping or not.

Getting a full night’s sleep is great and we all know undersleeping is bad for our health. But what happens when it goes the other way and we oversleep? 

Below, we’ve answered all of your questions about oversleeping, including the causes, potential health impacts, and how to stop it. Plus, we’ve covered how you can use the RISE app to work out how much sleep you need each night and whether you’re overshooting this.

Advice From a Sleep Doctor:

For a sleep doctor’s opinion, we asked our Rise Science sleep advisor and medical reviewer, Dr. Chester Wu. Dr. Wu is double board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine, so he knows a thing or two about (over)sleeping.

“It’s not really possible to oversleep. If you’re sleeping for longer than usual, it’s probably because you need to catch up on lost sleep, your body’s recovering from an illness, or you simply need this amount of sleep every night. You may not actually be getting more sleep, either. You sometimes just need longer in bed on a restless night. If you regularly sleep for 10 hours or more, though, and still have daytime sleepiness, it could be a sign of a sleep disorder or medical condition. Speak to your healthcare provider to rule this out.”

How Much Sleep is Oversleeping?

There’s no set amount of sleep that’s considered oversleeping because we all need a different amount of sleep. 

So what counts as oversleeping for one person, won’t be oversleeping for another. If you need seven hours of sleep, then eight hours may be oversleeping. But if your partner needs nine hours of sleep, then eight hours wouldn’t be enough sleep for them. 

Some people are what’s called “long sleepers” and need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. So their long nights of sleep may look like oversleeping, when really it’s exactly what they need.  

To know for sure if you’re oversleeping, you need to know how much sleep you need — this is known as your sleep need. Your sleep need is determined by genetics and unique to you. 

RISE can work out your sleep need down to the minute. The app uses a year’s worth of your phone use behavior and sleep science algorithms. 

Curious how much sleep other people need? We looked at sleep need data from 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up. Some only needed five hours of sleep, but others needed up to 11 hours 30 minutes. 

You might think anything over eight hours is oversleeping, but 48% of RISE users need eight hours of sleep or more.

We looked at sleep need data from 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up. Some only needed five hours of sleep, but others needed up to 11 hours 30 minutes.
The RISE app can work out how much sleep you need.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep need here

How Many Hours of Sleep is Oversleeping?

There’s no set hours of sleep that’s classed as oversleeping as we all need a different amount of sleep each night. 

In general though, if you’re consistently sleeping for 10 hours or more and still feel excessively tired during the day, you may be oversleeping. Speak to a doctor to rule out sleep disorders or medical conditions that could be causing you to sleep for this long. 

How to Know if I’m Oversleeping?

Here’s how to find out if you’re oversleeping. 

  1. Find out your sleep need: You may be sleeping for nine hours, which can feel like a lot, but if that’s what your body needs, it’s not oversleeping. 
  2. Find out how much sleep debt you have: If you have a lot of sleep debt, your body may be getting extra sleep to recover. 

Sleep debt is the amount of sleep you’ve missed out on recently. When your body gets the chance, it’ll want to “oversleep” to get more shut-eye. 

RISE can work out how much sleep you need and how much sleep debt you have to help you determine if you’re really oversleeping or not. 

Heads-up: Don’t forget about sleep efficiency. Sleep efficiency is the measure of how much time you spend sleeping in bed. It takes into account the time it takes you to fall asleep and any time you’re awake during the night. 

If you have poor sleep with bad sleep efficiency, you may need more time in bed to meet your sleep need. This can make it feel like you’re oversleeping if you’re spending much longer in bed than your sleep need. But just because you spend 10 hours in bed, that doesn’t mean you’re sleeping for 10 hours.

RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app can work out how much sleep debt you have.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep debt here

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What Are the Symptoms of Oversleeping?

The symptoms of oversleeping include: 

  • Regularly sleeping for 10 hours or more 
  • Headaches 
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness  
  • Extreme difficulty waking up
  • Impaired cognitive functioning 

On the flip side, sleeping for an extra hour or two every now and again isn’t a symptom of oversleeping. You probably just need a little extra sleep.  

Can Oversleeping Make You Tired?

Oversleeping may make you tired because: 

  • Your sleep is broken and not as restorative. 
  • You’re catching up on sleep and your body isn’t making excessive cortisol and adrenaline to keep you going as it does when you’re sleep deprived. 
  • You’re waking up in an energy dip in your circadian rhythm. 
  • You’re out of sync with your circadian rhythm. 
  • You’ve got an underlying sleep disorder or medical condition. 

Let’s dive into those in more detail. 

Firstly, oversleeping may make you feel tired when you’re not oversleeping exactly. Your sleep may be broken, meaning you have to spend more time in bed to get enough shut-eye. But broken sleep isn’t as restorative as continuous sleep.

Broken sleep doesn’t feel great, and just this feeling alone can cause fatigue. A 2021 sleep study found how people feel about their sleep affected daytime fatigue more than their sleep duration. 

And research from 2022 shows more light sleep and less time awake at night are linked to better sleep satisfaction. So if you feel like the quality of your sleep is poor and you’re oversleeping, this may add to fatigue. 

Another culprit is cortisol and adrenaline. When you're sleep deprived, these alertness-boosting hormones keep you going. But over time, high cortisol can lead to lowered mental performance, more belly fat, and health issues like diabetes and heart disease.

When you catch up on sleep, and feel like you’re oversleeping, your body won’t produce as much of the hormones, so you may not feel the false sense of energy they give you. But don’t worry, by catching up on sleep, you’ll be boosting your energy levels long term.

Another reason oversleeping can make you feel tired is your circadian rhythm. This is your roughly 24-hour body clock. 

We all have predictable peaks and dips in energy throughout the day. There’s usually a peak in energy mid-morning. But if you sleep in, you may sleep through this peak and wake up in a natural dip in energy, feeling more fatigue when you wake up than you would if you’d woken up earlier.

If you feel like you can’t wake up after oversleeping, it may be because your sleep pattern is now all over the place. This can cause you to get out of sync with your circadian rhythm, which can lead to low energy levels overall.   

And if a sleep disorder or medical condition is causing oversleeping, it could also cause tiredness as another side effect.

Want to learn more? We’ve covered more on why you’re always tired here.

What Are the Causes of Oversleeping?

The common causes of oversleeping include: 

  • Temporarily needing more sleep 
  • Sleep debt 
  • Sleep disorders 
  • Medical conditions 
  • Poor sleep hygiene

Temporarily Needing More Sleep 

Your sleep need is generally set from early adulthood, but there are times when your body needs more sleep than usual. 

These include when you’re recovering from: 

Sleep Debt 

Sleep debt is the sleep you’ve missed recently. If you don’t get enough sleep each night, you’ll start building up sleep debt. 

And your body will want to sleep for longer than usual to catch up on sleep. Most of us see this when we don’t get enough sleep in the workweek and then catch up with weekend sleep. 

This isn’t oversleeping though, it’s recovery sleep from undersleeping. And the more sleep debt you have, the longer it’ll take to recover, so you could find yourself oversleeping for days or weeks. 

Check RISE to see how much sleep debt you have. Got a lot? This might be why you're oversleeping.  

Sleep Disorders 

Sleep disorders can either be causing you to sleep for longer or be disrupting your sleep, meaning you have to spend longer in bed to get enough shut-eye. 

These could include: 

Medical Conditions 

Just like with sleep disorders, medical conditions could be causing you to oversleep or be disrupting your sleep, leading to more time in bed. 

These include: 

  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • ADHD 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain  
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)  
  • Allergies 
  • COVID (you might oversleep while recovering and then suffer from COVID insomnia post-infection, meaning you need more time in bed than before to get enough sleep)

While not a medical condition, hormones could also be making it hard to get a good night’s sleep.

This can happen when: 

You might also be taking medication that can make you feel sleepy and want to oversleep each morning. 

This includes: 

Alcohol, marijuana, and opiods can also make people sleep excessively.

Oversleeping a new problem? We’ve covered why you’re sleeping so much all of a sudden here.

Poor Sleep Hygiene 

Sleep hygiene is the name for the daily habits that can help you get a good night’s sleep. If you have poor sleep hygiene, it can take longer to fall asleep and you may find yourself awake for longer during the night

This means you need to spend more time in bed to get the sleep you need, which can feel like you’re oversleeping. 

For example, if you need eight hours of sleep, but it takes you an hour to drift off and you’re awake for a further hour throughout the night, you’d need 10 hours in bed to get enough sleep. 

Good sleep hygiene includes: 

  • Getting out in sunlight first thing each morning
  • Avoiding light in the run-up to bedtime
  • Cutting yourself off from caffeine, alcohol, large meals, and intense exercise too close to bedtime 
  • Keeping a regular sleep schedule
  • Making sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet 
  • Doing a relaxing bedtime routine to keep stress levels in check 

RISE can tell you when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits each day to help you fall asleep faster and sleep through the night, so you can spend the right amount of time in bed for you. 

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Is Oversleeping Bad?

Most of the time, oversleeping isn’t bad. Your body probably needs the extra sleep to pay back sleep debt or fight off an illness, for example. So the extra rest can come with health benefits. 

If you’re regularly getting 10 hours or more sleep, though, speak to a healthcare provider as it could be a sign of a sleep disorder or medical condition. 

It’s not clear yet if there are health impacts from oversleeping. Some studies show a “U-curve” when it comes to sleep duration. That is, too little sleep is bad for us, but too much sleep may be bad for us, too.  

Some research links oversleeping to: 

But many studies on oversleeping have problems. Some are done on those over 80, so the results from older adults may not apply to other age groups. And others are based on self-reported data, which can be inaccurate.

Others don’t properly define oversleeping. For example, a 2022 study found low thiamine intake was linked to oversleeping. But in this study, anything more than eight hours of sleep was considered oversleeping. Our own RISE data shows 48% of users need eight hours or more sleep, though. 

Beyond these problems with the research, the link between oversleeping and health issues may be correlation, not causation. Oversleeping may not cause a health problem, an underlying health problem may be causing the oversleeping to begin with.

One paper on the topic says, “while there are many external pressures that can limit sleep duration to less than the optimal amount, it appears unlikely that habitual extension of sleep beyond optimal levels is a common behavior in otherwise healthy adults.” 

It adds that the evidence showing oversleeping can cause health issues is weak. But more studies are needed. 

And a 2021 paper puts it plainly, “In response to the question: “Can I sleep too much?,” the answer is “No,” since “too much” implies sleeping longer than is biologically necessary.” 

It adds that you can’t oversleep in the same way you can overeat. 

Finally, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society states, “Sleeping for more than 9 hours per night on a regular basis may be appropriate for young adults, individuals recovering from sleep debt, and individuals with illnesses. For others, it is uncertain whether sleeping more than 9 hours per night is associated with health risk.” 

So more research is needed. 

We’ve covered more on the science behind this in our post on whether nine hours of sleep is too much. Spoiler alert: (in almost all cases) it’s not. 

Is Oversleeping Worse Than Undersleeping?

Most of the time, oversleeping isn’t worse than undersleeping. 

Undersleeping can lead to an increased risk of: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes 
  • Weight gain and obesity 
  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression
  • Early death 

Oversleeping is linked to a higher risk of some chronic diseases — but there are problems with the research. So further studies are needed to fully understand the effects of oversleeping, and whether it’s even bad for us at all.  

If you’re oversleeping, you may simply need a little more sleep than usual, so it’s actually a good thing to get this extra rest. 

And if you’re oversleeping after a few nights of sleep deprivation, don’t panic. A 2020 systematic review says, “although it would be better to obtain sufficient sleep on all 7 days of the week, catching-up on weekday sleep debt on the weekend appears to be better than not doing it.” 

Can I Bank Sleep by Oversleeping?

You probably can’t bank sleep by oversleeping. Many experts say you can’t sleep for longer than you need. You need enough sleep each night to perform your best each day. 

That means, unfortunately, you can’t get 10 hours of sleep on a Thursday night, knowing you’re going out late Friday. It’s best to try and get enough sleep each and every night. And when that’s not possible, catch up on lost sleep when you can.

How to Avoid Oversleeping?

Avoid oversleeping by lowering your sleep debt, sticking to a sleep schedule, having a morning routine you look forward to, improving your sleep hygiene, and getting tested for a sleep disorder or medical condition. 

Here’s more on those key steps: 

  • Lower your sleep debt: If you’ve got high sleep debt, your body will want to get more sleep to make up for what it’s lost out on. Lower your sleep debt by taking afternoon naps, heading to bed a little earlier, or sleeping in a little later (keep this to an extra hour or so). 
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule: Find the best time to go to sleep and wake up and try to stick to these times each day, both on weekdays and weekends. RISE users with consistent sleep-wake times have lower sleep debt than those with inconsistent times, so a sleep schedule can help you keep sleep debt low, too. And 2022 research shows hitting the snooze button can make you feel groggier each morning, which could make you want to oversleep, compared to one alarm. If you regularly oversleep your alarm, check out our tips for waking up to an alarm here.
  • Having a morning routine you look forward to: Struggle getting out of bed? Make time for a morning routine that includes things you enjoy, like reading, going for a walk, or eating breakfast with a loved one. 
  • Improve your sleep hygiene: With good sleep hygiene, you’ll improve your sleep efficiency and spend more time sleeping while in bed, and therefore won’t need to spend extra time trying to get the shut-eye you need. RISE can walk you through 20+ sleep habits, including when to get out in sunlight, when to have your last coffee each day, and when to eat dinner for better sleep. 
  • Get tested for a sleep disorder or medical condition: Your healthcare provider can test you for sleep disorders and health problems and recommend the best treatment options if this is the reason you’re oversleeping. For example, sleep apnea treatments include sleeping with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which can reduce how often your breathing stops in your sleep. And sleep restriction (temporarily sleeping for shorter durations) can help reduce insomnia and help you sleep through the night.  
RISE app screenshot showing healthy sleep habits
The RISE app can guide you through 20+ daily sleep hygiene habits.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications here

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How to Feel Better After Oversleeping?

Just woken up after oversleeping? Here’s how to feel better, wake yourself up, and make sure the long sleep doesn’t impact your next night of sleep: 

  • Get out in sunlight: This will reset your circadian rhythm for the day and suppress the sleep hormone melatonin.
  • Do some exercise: This will help you shake off sleep inertia, or grogginess. A 2021 study found just 30 seconds of exercise can help improve morning energy levels. 
  • Be careful with coffee: A cup of coffee in the morning is usually a good idea, but if you’ve slept in past noon, your usual coffee could keep you up the next night. Check RISE for when you should be avoiding caffeine that day. Slept in past this time? Go for decaf. 
  • Drink some water: Dehydration can cause fatigue and headaches, and you’ll probably be very dehydrated if you’ve slept for a long period of time.
  • Pay extra attention to your sleep hygiene: After excessive sleep, you might find it harder to fall asleep on time the next night. To help, pay extra attention to your sleep hygiene, such as making sure not to drink alcohol or eat dinner too close to bedtime. Check RISE for when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits.

If oversleeping causes your sleep schedule to get out of whack, we’ve covered how to reset your sleep schedule here.

Find Out if You’re Oversleeping 

If you’re spending anything more than eight hours in bed, it can feel like you’re oversleeping. But that’s most likely not the case. You might be getting less sleep than you think, need more sleep in general, or temporarily need more sleep to recover from a lack of sleep, illness, intense exercise, or an injury. 

If you’re regularly getting 10 hours of sleep or more a night, however, this might be a sign of a sleep disorder or health condition. 

The RISE app can work out your individual sleep need and track your sleep time each night, so you know if you’re overshooting it. And the app can work out your sleep debt, so you know when your body wants to oversleep to recover. 

To spend more time sleeping while in bed, follow RISE’s 20+ personalized sleep hygiene recommendations. Healthy continuous sleep can boost everything from your energy levels and focus to your overall health and wellness. 

And this can happen fast — 80% of RISE users get better sleep within five days.

Summary FAQs

What is oversleeping?

Oversleeping can be defined as regularly sleeping for 10 hours or more. This could be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder or medical condition. But you may temporarily need more sleep if you’re recovering from sleep deprivation, injury, illness, or intense exercise.

How many hours is oversleeping?

There’s no set amount of hours that’s classed as oversleeping as we all need a different amount of sleep. But you may be oversleeping if you regularly sleep for 10 hours or more. This could be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder or medical condition. You may temporarily need more sleep if you’re recovering from sleep deprivation, injury, illness, or intense.

What causes oversleeping?

Oversleeping can be caused by recent sleep deprivation, temporarily needing more sleep (like after intense exercise or when recovering from an illness or injury), a sleep disorder like sleep apnea or hypersomnia, or a medical condition like depression and diabetes.

What are signs of oversleeping?

Signs of oversleeping include regularly sleeping for 10 hours or more, headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleeping for longer than usual every now and again is usually nothing to worry about. Your body may just need some extra sleep to recover from sleep deprivation, illness, injury, or intense exercise.

Is oversleeping bad?

Oversleeping can be bad. Regularly sleeping for 10 hours or more can be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder or medical condition. Oversleeping has been linked to psychiatric diseases, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and death. But more research needs to be done to confirm these links as the evidence is weak. Plus, it may just be correlation, not causation. Most of the time, oversleeping is a sign of needing more rest to recover from sleep deprivation, illness, injury, or intense exercise.

How to stop oversleeping?

Stop oversleeping by lowering your sleep debt, improving your sleep hygiene, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, having a morning routine you look forward to, and getting tested for an underlying sleep disorder or health issue.

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