Have you ever experienced a groggy haze coming out of a long sleep? I used to think that if I went a few days with inadequate sleep that I would easily be able to “catch-up” on sleep the following days after I met whatever deadline I was trying to meet. This cycle of saving my “sleep days” seemed to work well with the need to be consistently producing.
And, it’s a pretty well known fact that students are typically overworked and known for undersleeping.
So, naturally, I adapted to this bizarre sleep schedule..
Take a few days and sleep 5-6 hours, then bounce back and sleep 12 hours. it seems like it should work, right?
Well, it is true that sleeping for a long period of time feels like it may be restorative, but it has been proven this is not the best for our brains or quality of life in our waking state.
While I try not to do this anymore, it still occasionally happens.
I recently have been tracking my sleep quality and REM cycles using my Fitbit. My sleep schedule typically ranges from 5-8 hours and I tend to keep the same circadian rhythm pattern, AKA waking up at the same time and aiming to go to bed at the same time every night.
I am human though, and sometimes this just doesn’t work. Recently I have noticed that if I get more than 8 hours of sleep a night, I end up being pretty groggy the following day. I have ruled out my food intake and physical activity as a contributing source to this grogginess.
So how do you know you are getting too much sleep?
Are You Sleeping Too Much?
When I hit that annoying snooze button too many times I notice I am tired throughout the day. And I am not alone in experiencing this repercussion. While we think we are prolonging the amount of sleep we can get by hitting snooze, we are actually letting our bodies fall back asleep but not hitting the sought after REM cycle that our brains need to restore for the upcoming day. Think about it like slamming on the brakes every quarter mile and expecting to go as far as if you weren’t hitting the brakes but traveling the same speed.
When we wake up with the following symptoms, we may be getting too much sleep:
-Having stiff joints, or pain in the joints
-Feeling lethargic or fatigued despite getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep
These are just a few of the common side effects of oversleeping. And it is important to note that a small percentage of the population suffers from hypersomnia, which is a need for 10 hours of sleep, at least, a night.
Hypersomnia and Narcolepsy can be ruled out with the assistance of your doctor.
Why Are You Over Sleeping?
There are a lot of environmental and physiological factors that could be contributing to oversleeping. Maybe you are caught in the same student sleeping cycle I was, catching up on sleep every few days. Or, maybe you are sleeping more than 8 hours every single night.
If you are sleeping more than 8 hours a night and you are not having negative side effects, then I commend you! Keep on doing what works best for you.
However, if you fall into the other category, there are a few things we can look at to determine the cause of an overactive sleep schedule
- Depression – This would make our bodies relationship to sleep a secondary condition, and the depression would be the primary condition. Depression works hard to deplete us of our energy and ambition to do anything other than sleeping. This is a serious mental disability that shouldn’t have to be handled alone, so please reach out to your doctor if you think you may be suffering from depression.
- Anemia – The responsibility of iron in the body is to shuttle oxygen around to the cells. If you are low on iron, then the body may not be receiving enough oxygen, prohibiting our bodies ability to function best.
- Thyroid Issues – If you have any underactive thyroid, your body could feel sluggish and tired a lot. check out this extremely helpful and informative book on thyroid health to see if this could be causing you to oversleep.
- Sleep Apnea – This condition literally stops oxygen from making its way to our brain, decreasing the effectiveness of sleeping overall.
- Hypersomnia- This is the condition I referred to earlier. Those with hypersomnia need to get more sleep than the average person to feel alert the following day.
- Alcohol – Sometimes we feel like we sleep like a rock after drinking alcohol, but that is not the case. Alcohol also impairs our bodies ability to get a restful night’s sleep, so if you are looking for true beauty sleep, I would eliminate the night cap.
- Restless Leg Syndrome – This condition could be keeping you up at night, causing you to feel like you need more sleep because a lack of quality sleep. RLS can be caused by side effects from medication, too much caffeine, or anxiety.
Ways to Maintain Balance and Consistency With Your Sleeping Schedule
I recommend eliminating any nightcaps that you may be consuming before bed. Sometimes I will eat a little fat in the form of peanut butter and jelly (no, this isn’t technically paleo but it works for me) because it helps me maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Exercising throughout the day can improve sleep quality as well. I know it seems contradictory, because if you are super tired from not sleeping then the last thing you may want to do is exercise. But this is a tried and true method to increase energy levels.
I will often do 20 squats in the bathroom if I am starting to nod off at the library. It definitely sucks at first but it wakes me up much more than a coffee could. If squats aren’t your thing, you can take a brisk walk to help get your blood flow going.
To start from the source, take a couple smart moves to improve your bedroom environment
- Use white or brown noise
- Make sure your space is as dark as possible, use blackout curtains like these ones, or a sleeping mask
- Keep your bedroom cool
- Put those devices away! Seriously! They have an impact on our sleep quality
I have a pretty extensive blog post on other things you can do to destress and sleep like a pro, here.
We all know how important sleep is to function properly. But sleeping too much really is a thing. If you have eliminated all the conditions that may be causing you to oversleep that I mention in this blog, then I would recommend talking with your doctor to narrow down any other causes.
Cheers to getting your beauty sleep!