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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 March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

More Health Tips

Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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