Most of us lead a very hectic lifestyle, which often means that we can afford no more than 5-6 hours of sleep on weekdays. Come weekend, and we want to pay off the sleep debt we have collected over the week, and end up sleeping for 10-12 hours. But instead of feeling crisp and refreshed, we wake up sluggish, fatigued and even more tired than before.
A bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling pretty tired the next day. Put a string of those together and nagging fatigue starts to set in. Getting good sleep, in the right amount, can make a big difference in how you feel. Too little or too much sleep can increase your perception of fatigue. And even if you get enough hours of sleep, you might find yourself dragging the next day if that sleep was interrupted by frequent awakenings or was of poor quality.
Too much long sleep on weekends does not seem to make people feel better
Although most of us need about eight hours a night to feel refreshed during the day, this number varies from person to person. Some feel fresh and active with just 6 hours a night and others cannot seem to function without getting 9 hours of sleep time. It makes sense that getting less sleep than you need might leave you feeling tired. But then, why shouldn’t getting more sleep than you need may not leave you refreshed and energized.
In fact, many people find that on days when they hit the snooze button more times than usual, they feel more lethargic and unmotivated. But there is more bad news – researchers have linked over-sleeping to a host of medical problems which include heart diseases, headaches, diabetes and more. So, what’s really going on? When it comes to sleep, can you really have too much of it?
How Much Sleep Is Too Much?
The amount of sleep a person needs varies significantly over the course of your lifetime. It depends on many factors, some of which include:
But although sleep needs differ over time and from person to person, experts typically recommend that adults should sleep between seven and nine hours each night.
Sleeping lesser than that can give rise to its own set of medical problems, and is consistently related to poor judgment, lack of concentration, driving accidents, weight gain etc. If you are concerned that you aren’t getting enough sleep, find out more at: Are You Sleep Deprived?
It is OK to sleep in a little extra over weekends. Simply, don’t make it a habit to do this!!!
However, for some people, sleeping more than the recommended amount is necessary. Bear in mind that sleeping a little extra sometimes (for example only during the weekends) will not have any long time ill-effects. But for those who consistently oversleep, this could mean there is a serious underlying problem.
For people who suffer from Hypersomnia, oversleeping is actually a medical disorder. The condition causes people to suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day, which is not usually relieved by napping. It also causes them to sleep for unusually long periods of time at night. Many people with Hypersomnia experience symptoms of anxiety, low energy, and memory problems as a result of their almost constant need for sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that causes people to stop breathing momentarily during sleep, can also lead to an increased need for sleep. That’s because it disrupts the normal sleep cycle.
Of course, not everyone who oversleeps has a sleep disorder. Other possible causes of oversleeping include the use of certain substances, such as alcohol and some prescription medications. Other medical conditions, including depression, can cause people to oversleep. And then there are people who simply want to sleep a lot.
Feeling Tired After A Few Too Many Hours In Bed?
Our sleep-wake cycle follows a regular pattern (circadian rhythm) and when we sleep “too much”, that pattern shifts. Circadian rhythms are the patterns of repeated activity associated with the environmental cycles of day and night. Our internal rhythms repeat roughly every 24 hours. Once our body clocks, or circadian pacemakers, start “telling the wrong time,” we feel it in lethargy, fatigue, and a sleep cycle gone haywire. The clock says one thing and your body says another, very similar to jet lag.
Synchronizing these two clocks (internal and external) come with hitting the “re-set” button every 24 hours. We can do this by exposure to morning light and by activity. For example, when you want to be alert and awake but your body doesn’t want to follow, you can stimulate your body to re-set itself just by going outside into the sunlight for 10 or 15 minutes or engaging in some physical activity, preferably outside in the bright light.
Why is Too Much Sleep Bad For You?
More often than not, people who tend to oversleep often end up feeling tired and fatigued. They might be getting those extra ZZz’s to feel more refreshed over the weekend, but sadly the result is that they wake up to find they have no energy or desire to spend their time pursuing leisurely activities. This is known as sleep drunkenness – when a person hovers between sleep and wakefulness. You end up feeling rather ‘blah,’ and drink copious amounts of coffee because you feel tired and disoriented throughout the day.
And we thought sleeping more is the solution to all our woes!
Research bears out the connection between too much sleep and too little energy. It appears that any significant deviation from normal sleep patterns can upset the body’s rhythms and increase daytime fatigue. Some researchers claim that two factors — depression and low socioeconomic status — are strongly associated with oversleeping. Those two factors may be the reason for the observed negative health effects.
Here is a look at some medical problems associated with oversleeping:
Sleeping too little makes you prone to weight gain, but surprisingly, sleeping too much also does the same! One recent study showed that people who slept for nine or 10 hours every night were 21% more likely to become obese over a six-year period as compared to people who slept between seven and eight hours. This association between sleep and obesity remained the same even when food intake and exercise were taken into account.
For some people prone to headaches, sleeping longer than usual on a weekend or vacation can trigger a headache. Researchers believe this is due to the effect oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. People who sleep too much during the day and disrupt their nighttime sleep may also find themselves suffering from headaches in the morning.
3. Back pain:
There was a time when doctors told people suffering from back pain to head straight to bed. But those days are long gone. You do need to curtail your regular exercise program when you are experiencing back pain. But doctors now realize the health benefits of maintaining a certain level of activity. And they recommend against sleeping more than usual, when possible.
Studies have shown that sleeping too long or not enough each night can increase the risk for diabetes.
5. Heart disease:
The Nurses Health Study involved nearly 72,000 women. A careful analysis of the data from that study showed that women who slept nine to 11 hours per night were 38% more likely to have coronary heart disease than women who slept eight hours. Researchers have not yet identified a reason for the connection between oversleeping and heart disease.
Although insomnia is more commonly linked to depression than oversleeping, roughly 15% of people with depression also sleep too much. This may in turn make their depression worse. That’s because regular sleep habits are important to the recovery process. Need another reason not to overdo the ZZZs when you’re blue? In certain instances, sleep deprivation can have a temporary antidepressant effect.
7. Increased Risk of Mortality:
A 2007 Finnish study found that the mortality risks increased by about 20 percent for people who slept more than eight hours. That same year, a British study found that people who slept five hours or less and those who slept more than eight hours also faced increased risks. Another study showed that people who routinely slept more than eight hours a night had a greater chance of stroke than others with less sleep. No specific reason for this correlation has been determined. But researchers found that depression and low socioeconomic status are also associated with longer sleep. It may seem like a great idea to sleep in a few extra hours on a cold day, but isn’t that taking all the fun out of being ALIVE? It’s possible that sleeping too much results in poor quality of life.
Get the Benefits of Sleep Without Oversleeping
The best way to find that perfect balance between sleep and productive waking hours lies in figuring out how many hours of sleep are right for you; and then stick with it — even on weekends, vacations, and holidays. More often than not, people tend to need more hours in bed not because they suffer from Hypersomnia, but because they aren’t getting enough quality sleep.
Oftentimes, we only think of sleep in terms of minutes — but that’s really the quantity of sleep. In fact, there’s a quality of sleep.
The average sleep cycle takes 90 minutes to complete. It starts from stage 1, the lightest sleep, and progresses to deeper levels through stage 4. Then, it continues to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep when the person dreams. When you have poor quality sleep, you spend a lot of time in stage 1 sleep, and as a result, tend to want to sleep longer to make up for the quality by increasing quantity. If you don’t get quality sleep, your brain wants you to return to sleep, hoping that the quality will get better. Or your quality is so poor throughout the evening, sleeping 8.5 hours on the clock is really like sleeping 6.5 hours to your brain.
Here are a few tips to ensure better quality of sleep:
– Experts recommend keeping the same bedtimes and wake times every day. Your cycles will adjust if there is a regular schedule to follow. The key is your wake up time. Just because you stay up an extra two hours does not mean you should sleep in an extra two hours because your internal clock cannot shift that quickly.
– Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime. Ideally, stop consuming caffeine between 2 to 3 p.m. and watch out for that second cocktail after work or at dinner. These will both keep you out of deeper sleep in the early part of the night, and your body will then try to make up that deep sleep later in your sleep time when you are trying to wake up.
– Exercising regularly and making your bedroom a comfortable environment that’s conducive to sleep will help you get the amount of sleep you need.
– If you tend to feel groggy with too much sleep during weekends, avoid napping past 3pm. It’s better to nap according to your circadian rhythm, which for most means snoozing in the early afternoon (1-3 p.m.). If you must nap make it for either 30 min or 90 min. If you nap longer than 30 minutes but less than 90 minutes, you run the risk of entering slow-wave deep sleep within your cycle and waking up groggy.