Mindful Living

What Really Happens When You Oversleep

Written By: Kripa Jalan

What Really Happens When You Oversleep

On average, most adults require at least 7 hours of sleep, daily. We all know that getting too little sleep isn’t ideal from a health perspective, but what about too much? 

You may have seen the shattering headlines:

“Oversleeping is linked to a greater risk of disease and death.”

If you’re someone who tends to sleep more than the general requirement of 7-8 hours a day, you may be wondering if there’s something wrong with you.

While we’ll go over this in detail below, chances are you have nothing to worry about. Long sleep itself likely poses little to no health problems. That’s because, in people who sleep more than the norm, it’s usually a result of a chronic health concern, not the cause. 

In some cases, this forms a viscous cycle. Health problems disturb sleep, which exacerbates the problem at hand, which in turn leads to worsened sleep, and so on!

Sleep set-point

Your body is great at maintaining homeostasis. For example, to regulate temperature, you will sweat when you get too hot or shiver when you get too cold.

Think of this like a thermostat in your house. Once it’s set at a certain point, it works to keep the internal state at that level. Similarly, with sleep – if you get too little one night, your body will crave more the next day. 

Oversleeping is often a response to under-sleeping. Some people sleep 10+ hours on the weekends because they’re sleeping for less than 6 hours through the week i.e. they haven’t repaid their sleep debt.

Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you get. 

How much is too much?

For the most part, the exact amount of sleep you need each night depends on your habits and activities, health, and sleep patterns. 

Most people require between 7-9 hours of sleep, daily. However, that’s an average recommendation – not a mandate. Some people will require a little more, some a little less.

There are a few genetically gifted folks that thrive on less sleep. However, that’s not the case for most people who sleep for less than 7-hours on a daily. Rather, they typically skimp on sleep for a myriad of reasons – work, kids, or even procrastination.

On the flip side, some people require more than 9-hours of sleep. They’re typically children, teenagers, and many young adults who need that added hour or so of shuteye, as their bodies continue to develop. Occasionally, adults may require more rest than normal, especially after strenuous activity, travel, or if they haven’t slept adequately in a while.

For those who sleep for 14 or more hours and still wake up tired – the issue often lies in the quality of sleep, not necessarily the quantity. A variety of health conditions (including depression) can lead to hypersomnia (the inability to stay awake.) If this is the case, it’s worth mentioning to your provider!

How do you know if you’re sleeping too much?

During the day, if you sit down to work, read a book, or watch a show – do you feel a strong urge to snooze? If yes, it may be a sign of one of two things – poor sleep quality or a sleep disorder.

Other than that, if you’re sleeping a lot and feeling energized throughout the day, those 9+ hours may just be a reflection of your natural sleep pattern. 

The takeaway? If you are a long sleeper and feel good, don’t stress about it.