Getting Too Much Sleep?

Discusses the effects of sleeping too much.

Most guidelines concerning sleep suggest individuals get eight hours of sleep a night. However people differ greatly, and you may find you function best on five hours, while others feel they need ten hours to perform at their peak. Regardless of how much sleep you individually require, there are simple ways to know if you are getting enough or too much.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE GETTING ENOUGH?

You don't necessarily have to jump out of bed in the morning, but you should certainly not feel tired after a good night's sleep. Well-rested individuals generally don't have issues with low energy, memory problems, concentration, or mood swings and should not require a daytime nap. If you feel you are getting the recommended amount of sleep but are still feeling tired during the day, consult your doctor. It may signal a sleep disorder.

SO HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

If eight hours is good, ten hours must be better, right? Not necessarily. The longer you sleep (over and above the amount you require for daily function), the more your quality of sleep deteriorates. People who consistently sleep ten to twelve hours a night (or more) find it actually takes them longer to fall asleep, they wake more frequently, and they feel less rested when they wake in the morning. Unfortunately, this starts a cycle where they feel more tired and believe more sleep is needed to remedy the situation. What they are actually experiencing is sleep inertia - grogginess, fatigue, and the inability to "wake up" due to excessive sleep.



We are more tired when we are sick, pregnant, stressed out, or dealing with time zone changes (jet lag). Naps are often suggested in these situations. Individuals who do shift work (police officers, doctors, etc.) also tend to be more tired and require additional sleep. But generally speaking, if you are sleeping more than eight to ten hours a day and not feeling refreshed, you should consult a doctor. Many sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, will deplete a person's energy regardless of how many hours they sleep. By receiving treatment for a sleep disorder, you will rest soundly and have a more productive day.

REGARDING NAPS

Ever taken a nap and awoken more tired than when you fell asleep? For most people, if they nap more than fifteen minutes, their body thinks it is nighttime. Their body will then lapse into a deeper sleep, and it will be harder to wake up (sleep inertia). Long naps can also affect a body's internal clock, making it harder to sleep or wake at the appropriate times.

If a long nap is required because of a temporary medical condition or severe sleep deprivation, it is best to nap either an hour and a half or three hours. Most people's full sleep cycle takes ninety minutes to complete. So it's best to nap an entire sleep cycle if a longer nap is necessary. Set an alarm, and do not wake in the middle of the sleep cycle, or you will generally feel more tired then when you began your nap.

Because of our circadian rhythms, it is best to take a long nap between the hours of one pm and five pm. A nap earlier or later than that makes it difficult to function the rest of the hours you are awake.

Lastly, if your fatigue is due to a sleep disorder, taking a nap is no way to deal with it. Your doctor will be able to guide you in the correct way to handle a sleep disorder with the help of medicine and other therapies.

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