Sleeping longer can make you feel more tired

December 28, 2020 5 min read

Sleeping longer can make you feel more tired

People love to sleep, but too much of a good thing can make you tired and throw off your biological clock. (Albert Joseph Moore/Wikimedia)

Sleeping longer should make you feel great, right? So why does it sometimes make you feel tired? 

The average person spends about one-third of his life sleeping. As much as people love sleep, maybe you don’t want to spend any more than one-third of your life in it so as not to miss all the excitement. Plus, oversleeping a lot can lead to severe health problems.

Sleep: a vital sign

The Sleep Doctor, as Michael J. Breus, is known, answers the question of why you feel tired after a long sleep in an article on Huffington Post [1] and on his own Twitter account.

Dr. Breus, an author and physician, says the right amount of sleep is so important to people’s health that sleep itself should be added to the vital signs along with heart rate, temperature and blood pressure.

His Twitter account [2] has links to articles by himself and others advising that sleep loss and other sleep aberrations can cause heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, contribute to you eating unhealthy foods and gaining weight, and undercut social skills.

Plus, he reports, getting the right amount of sleep can make you look more intelligent.

The World Sleep Society says there are more than 100 sleep disorders, and sleep is one of the three pillars of good health, along with a good diet and exercise.

Feeling tired after sleeping longer

In his Huff Post article on feeling tired after sleeping longer, Dr. Breus says the reason for this is because the circadian rhythm gets thrown off. The circadian rhythm, also known as the biological clock, is the cycle of sleeping and waking.

The circadian rhythm can be interrupted by being a person exposed to light when it is normally dark, a break in a person’s routine, sleeping too much or too little or because of chemical stimulation or tranquilization (drugs).

Sleep hygiene video

Dr. Breus says the body’s rhythms reset every 24 hours. He adds: “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.”

Sleep cycle

Within the body’s biological rhythm is a sleep cycle, which lasts between 80 to 120 minutes. The average is 90 minutes, Dr. Breus says. He writes:

The average person who sleeps 7.5 hours goes through five cycles each night. When you sleep in, you are extending your number of cycles, and then generally you wake up in the middle of a cycle. If it is in the part of the cycle that is deep or REM sleep you can wake and feel worse than before you went to sleep.

A biological rhythm like clockwork

Dr. Breus gives tips on how to keep your biological rhythm working like clockwork:

  • Go sleep at night and arise each morning around the same time, even on the weekends. A regular schedule helps your sleep cycle to adjust. Dr. Breus says the key is the time you wake up: “Just because you stay up an extra two hours does not mean you should sleep in an extra two hours (your internal clock cannot shift that quickly).”
  • Get out in the sunlight in the morning for 10 or 15 minutes while doing some physical activity, especially if you’re feeling groggy or over-tired. Exposing yourself to bright morning light stimulates the body to reset itself, he says.
  • Get your exercise in the morning instead of late in the day. Exercise can interfere with sleep, especially if it is done at night.
  • Don’t take naps after 3 p.m. the circadian rhythm of most people dictates naps around 1 to 3 p.m. He suggests napping for either 30 minutes or 90 minutes so you don’t enter what he calls “slow-wave deep sleep.” If you do that, you may wake up groggy (which kind of counteracts the whole purpose of taking a nap).
  • As good as it may feel, avoid sleeping late during weekends or vacations. Dr. Breus says to avoid sleeping in even if you had a late night. He advises going to sleep 15 to 30 minutes earlier that night.
  • Don’t take caffeine or alcohol near bedtime. He advises not taking caffeine after 2 or 3 p.m. Caffeine and what he calls “that second cocktail” after dinner or after work “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.”

To sleep, perchance to dream

The World Sleep Society website [3], which proclaims Good Sleep Is a Reachable Dream, has 10 commandments of sleep that it publicizes on World Sleep Day. The site advises:

  1. Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
  2. If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
  3. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.
  4. Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
  5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable.
  6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
  7. Use comfortable, inviting bedding.
  8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
  9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
  10. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.

The site lists 10 Commandments of Sleep for Children [4]. And the York Dispatch published an article [5saying Your Teenager Is Right, Science Says Let Them Sleep Later.

Avoid any sleep disruptions

Harvard Health has an article [6] that states any sleep pattern disruption can make you feel tired:

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. The best solution is to figure out how many hours of sleep are right for you and then stick with it — even on weekends, vacations, and holidays.

Too much sleep can even be harmful

WebMd.com has an article [7] that says oversleeping can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and increased risk of dying. Too much sleep can cause headaches, obesity and back pain, the article says. 

The article states:

The amount of sleep you need varies significantly over the course of your lifetime. It depends on your age and activity level as well as your general health and lifestyle habits. For instance, during periods of stress or illness, you may feel an increased need for sleep. 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.

Got that? Seven to nine hours of sleep per night is optimal. Sweet dreams!

Sources:

[1] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-come-i-feel-more-tire_b_428928
[2] https://twitter.com/thesleepdoctor
[3] http://worldsleepday.org/10-commandments-of-sleep-hygiene-for-adults
[4] http://worldsleepday.org/10-commandments-for-children
[5] https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/education/2016/02/15/science-says-let-teens-sleep-later/80058932/
[6] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/are-you-tired-from-too-much-sleep#:~:text=Getting%20good%20sleep%2C%20in%20the,or%20was%20of%20poor%20quality.
[7] https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/physical-side-effects-oversleeping

Mark Miller
Mark Miller



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