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Last Updated on August 14, 2018

Sleeping Too Much but Still Exhausted? Why You Can’t Sleep Well At Night

Sleeping Too Much but Still Exhausted? Why You Can’t Sleep Well At Night

Can’t get yourself out of the ‘laze zone’? Simple, your aunt would say – you need more sleep. Well, what if you’ve been sleeping more than usual, and still can’t shake off that heavy sense of fatigue?

You’re not alone.

Scientific research amply showcases that fatigue is rooted in many core factors, and sleep deprivation is merely one of them. Fatigue, whatever its cause might be for you, will take your life for a toss.

National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) estimates that 7% of road accidents are caused because of fatigue.[1] Also, 1 in 5 Americans are affected by fatigue, the financial impact (lower workplace productivity) of which is estimated at $100 billion annually.

On a personal level, fatigue makes you cranky, demotivated and unproductive. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to improve the real quality of your sleep, keep fatigue and tiredness at bay, and get more done, every day.

Are you sleeping for the right duration?

The general belief that adults need 8 hours of sleep to maintain healthy lifestyles is, well, a bit of an oversimplification. 8 hours – that’s what works for most people. It’s reasonably likely that it won’t work for you.

During sleep, the average human goes through multiple sleep cycles, of primarily two kinds of sleep – non-REM (shallow sleep) and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) or deep sleep. It’s better to wake up between two sleep cycles rather than in the middle of a cycle. The duration of a sleep cycle for a human varies between 90 and 110 minutes.

It’s easy to understand why 8 hours could be lower or higher than your ideal sleeping duration. Use a sleep tracker application to measure your ideal sleep duration. Or, keep on adjusting your sleep durations by 15 minutes (continue with a duration for a week) until you find your sweet sleep duration.

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Heard the phrase ‘body clock’? It’s closely tied to your sleep cycles and how you can tune your body to wake between REM sleep cycles. More on this, and many more methods for improving sleep quality, in the next sections.

How to tune your body’s internal clock

1. Follow sleep-discipline

Sleep researchers agree – sleeping and waking at the same time, even during weekends, helps set a sort of internal clock in your body, scientifically known as circadian rhythm. This rhythm affects your body, your brain, and your hormones, regulating when you feel like sleeping or waking up.

When you regulate the circadian rhythm, your body becomes naturally tuned to the idea of expecting sleep at a certain hour, and to wake up fresh and eager at a specific hour in the morning.

Try to follow this clock as regularly as possible because it takes time for it to take control of your sleep routine.

Natural light has an important role to play in setting the internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. If you can ask your partner to part the curtains, so that daylight seeps into your room before you awake, nothing like it.

Also, make it a point to take sun-breaks during the day (at least twice) if you work mostly within the confined of a closed office space.

2. Reduce exposure to blue light after evenings

Exposure to a lot of light can have negative effects on your ability to sleep well. Light impacts the body’s circadian rhythm, makes the brain believe that it’s daylight, and regulates body hormones such that the amount of melatonin is reduced, which in turn reduces the body’s inclination to sleep.

Blue light is the worst offender, and sadly, that’s what comes out of all your electronic devices.

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Because of the modern lifestyle, it might not be entirely practical for you to let go of electronic devices after evening. Try these options:

  • Use an app such as f.lux, which blocks out blue light from electronic device screens
  • Use spectacles with lenses that block out blue light
  • Reduce the brightness of your laptop and television screens
  • Try out screen protectors to filter out the harsh light, if you just can’t keep devices out of your pre-sleep routine

3. Avoid consuming chemicals that impede sleep

Nicotine, caffeine, alcohol – all these are known defaulters, as far as your sleep quality is concerned.

Caffeine, for instance, is a stimulant that is almost certain to keep you awake. It’s not only in coffee; caffeine is present in tea, colas, chocolates, and even some pain reliever medicines. Smokers should refrain from consuming tobacco products post evening.

People believe that alcohol helps them relax and fall asleep quicker than otherwise. This may be true, but the implications are bad for sleep quality. Alcohol makes you wake up more often during the night.

Limit your alcohol consumption to less than two drinks, if you are a regular drinker. Or, better still, don’t drink at all!

4. Nurture a healthy pre-sleep regimen

The transition from your wakeful hours to sleep hours can massively improve sleep quality and help you wake up fresh and alert. Try these options:

  • Engage yourself with a good book
  • Stay away from your electronic gadgets for at least one hour prior to sleep
  • Try out relaxation exercises to help your brain stop overthinking on personal problems
  • If you’re troubled by thoughts, write them down and put the notes away
  • Take a bath because sudden change in body temperature induces drowsiness
  • Instead of coffee, drink a cup or two of warm herbal tea

5. Make your bedroom’s environment conducive for sleep

Improper room ambience can not only delay the onset of sleep, but also cause you to wake often. On the contrary, salubrious room environment promotes sound sleep.

Here are some tips:

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  • Maintain a dark, quiet and cool environment
  • Use high quality curtains that block out outside light
  • Use a white noise appliance to shut off your brain from paying attention to outside noises
  • Use an eye mask if you’re unable to ensure complete darkness (because of your partner’s preferences, for instance)
  • Keep the room well ventilated, and the temperature regulated between 60 and 75°F
  • Get yourself a comfortable mattress, and change the bed linen often
  • Keep the wall-clock’s face away from yourself, and replace it with a quieter clock if the tick-tock is too loud

6. Use power naps judiciously, if at all

The idea of short day-time naps works well for many individuals. However, if you’ve been waking up groggy in spite of sleeping adequately, chances are that your regular power naps are to blame.

In a research study, participants who took power naps felt sleepy throughout the day, after taking their daytime naps.

7. Understanding your meds and their impact on sleep

The meds you take could have a major impact on how well you sleep and how well you wake up. Here are a couple of important pointers to keep in mind:

Avoid sleeping pills. Your sleep issues don’t warrant the use of sleeping pills. These medicines are known to interfere with your deep sleep (REM) and create several long-term health problems. A 2012 study published in BMJ Open goes as far as suggesting that people taking sleeping pills are at 4 times likelier to die as compared to those who don’t take these pills![2]

Know when to take your medicines. Some medicines tend to make you feel drowsy. Well, drowsiness isn’t the equivalent of sleepy.

So, refrain from deciding based on your opinions. Instead, consult with your doctor, as to when you should take specific medicines, if you are also facing sleep issues. Even if you are taking beauty-related medicines or weight loss medicines.

Your dietary habits have a strong role to play in deciding how well you sleep and how fresh you are on waking. Here are some dependable food practices:

Never skip your breakfast. Without fuel, your body will be lethargic, and you’ll just carry it through your sleep and to the next day. Also, skipping breakfast invariably causes overeating during dinners, which gives your body a tough time trying to find rejuvenating sleep.

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Eat judiciously after evenings. Research shows that people who eat reasonably fulfilling dinners after 8.30 pm have trouble digesting the food. Their body keeps on working to digest the food even while they’re asleep, which takes the sleep quality for a toss. Try as hard as possible to eat light and early dinners.

Eat melatonin-rich food. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness in humans. Your lifestyle and diet choices could help you build up melatonin, which in turn induces sleep. Tart cherry juice is a time tested, science backed, and proven effective drink to consume a couple of hours prior to sleeping.

The bottom line

Sleeping too much is not enough. Sleeping adequately and waking up with a feeling of enthusiasm and freshness is more important.

The quality of your life depends on how you feel throughout the day, and that’s where you need to realize your responsibility of taking your sleep seriously.

So if you find yourself sleeping too much but still feeling exhausted, it’s time to work on your daily habits and tune your internal body clock.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Robin Williams

Business Professional, Writer and Blogger

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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