5 Ways Oversleeping Can Harm You

Oversleeping is a topic that is not addressed very often. Many may not even regard it as a thing of concern. If you are wondering, “Is it possible to oversleep?”. The answer is simple- yes. 

Sleep has numerous health benefits, but it could also harm the body if done excessively. 

This article briefly discusses 5 adverse effects oversleeping can have on the body. 

5 Ways Oversleeping Can Harm You

Health Effects of Oversleeping

In addition to the productive hours lost in dreamland, too much sleep can cause real harm to your body in the following ways.

Oversleeping can make you tired.

It is logical to expect that the more you sleep, the more refreshed and energized you should feel. However, the reverse is the case. People often report headaches, feeling drowsy, or tired after an unusually long sleep session- a feeling similar to an alcohol hangover. 

Harvard Medical explains that this tiredness happens because sleeping for too long can disrupt your internal biological clock (circadian rhythm) and result in undue fatigue during waking hours. 


Oversleeping can cause obesity.

Both recent and older studies have established a link between oversleeping and the likelihood of gaining excessive body fat.

If you are on a weight loss journey, paying attention to your sleeping hours is essential.

Too much sleep can increase your risk of diabetes.

In addition to the increased tendency to obesity, oversleeping is a risk factor for diabetes mellitus. 

Oversleeping may cause coronary heart disease.

Although researchers have not yet understood the exact reason for this, studies have shown a recurrent link between oversleeping and poor cardiac health. 

Too much sleep can increase the risk of dying young

As a result of the association between long sleep duration and diabetes and heart disease, ‘oversleepers’ may be shortening their lifespans. One study at the University of Warwick, UK, concluded that “both short and long duration of sleep are significant predictors of death.”  

Getting the right amount of sleep is paramount. 

How Much Sleep Is Too Much?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the body requires different amounts of sleep for optimal functioning, and this amount varies with age groups.

Newborn0-3 months14-17
Infant4-11 months12-15
Toddler1-2 years11-14
Preschooler3-5 years10-13
School-age6-13 years9-11
Teenager14-17 years8-10
Young Adult18-25 years7-9
Adult26-64 years7-9
Older Adult≥65 years7-8

Constantly getting less or more sleep than is required is detrimental to health.

A young adult that sleeps for more than 9 hours daily is oversleeping.

Contrary to common beliefs, older adults (the elderly) don’t need more sleep than children and young adults.

Why Do People Oversleep?

Here are some reasons why people sleep for longer than necessary.

Compensation for prolonged sleep debt

Your oversleeping may indicate that your body is trying to catch up because you have starved it of adequate sleep for some time.

Circadian recalibration

If you recently traveled to a region with a different time zone, your natural sleep-wake clock may be temporarily destabilized. So you may find yourself sleeping for longer hours than usual until your body adjusts.

Poor Sleep

Ironically, poor sleep can make you sleep too much. If your quality of sleep keeps getting disrupted, you will need more hours to make up for the lost time, and this will result in oversleeping.

One of the commonest causes of poor sleep in adults is sleep apnea which causes sudden and repeated cessation of breathing several times per night. It is commoner in obese people. In children, sleep apnea can be caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils, which may obstruct the airway.  

Nocturia (waking up several times at night to urinate) can also cause poor sleep. It can frequently happen in older men with an enlarged prostate gland. 

Mental illness

Oversleeping may be a sign of depression or anxiety. Such individuals may use sleep as an escape from their mental health struggles.


Low levels of thyroid hormone may also lead to oversleeping

Drugs and alcohol

Taking too much alcohol can make you sleep for longer hours than usual. Sleeping pills may also make you oversleep.

How To Stop Oversleeping

We suggest the following tips to curb oversleeping:

Maintain good sleep hygiene by

  • Sleeping in a cool, dark, quiet room with comfortable bedding.
  • Retraining yourself to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

Good sleep hygiene will help improve your overall quality of sleep and make you wake up refreshed. When you feel well-rested, your body will not crave for additional hours in dreamland.

Address any medical condition that affects your sleep

Seek treatment for sleep apnea, nocturia, coughs that disturb your sleep, etc.

Good lifestyle habits

  • Avoid exercising too close to bedtime
  • Avoid drinking too much water close to bedtime to reduce your frequency of night urination.


Sleep is vital for good health, but it can be harmful when inadequate or excessive. Pay attention to your health and avoid oversleeping as much as possible.


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