Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Don’t Oversleep – You’ll Feel Even More Tired

'Monday blues' is a cultural phenomenon. It is the universal feeling of hopelessness, negativity, and lack of motivation on Mondays at the beginning of another hectic week at work. There are a lot of reasons that have been attributed to this problem like a negative emotional state and not enjoying your job. But, what if you were told that extra sleep over the weekend is responsible for it, would you believe it? And that too since that extra sleep has caused more tiredness in the body which is affecting your motivation as well. Someone's kidding, right? Wrong.

This is why oversleeping causes tiredness

Oversleeping, if its regular, is called hypersomnia and its symptoms are not just tiredness but even anxiety and low memory. There have been studies which reveal how long sleep stretches is actually harmful. There is something called 'sleep debt' which stands for the lack of proper sleep of 7.5 to 8 hours that a human body needs every day. What most people do is they make up for it during weekends by sleeping in excess of 10 hours. But instead of reenergizing the body, it cuts into something called our circadian rhythm.

Circadian rhythm is a 24 hour cycle in which processes like cell regeneration, hormone production, brain wave activity, etc., occur at specific time of the day or night. And the process of reenergizing through sleep is part of it. But when our sleeping time and duration of sleep changes, the weariness persists. But oversleep resulting in tiredness is not limited to weekends only. In fact, how and why oversleeping occurs has a big role to play in the persisting tiredness many people experience.

Often people who sleep longer and still feel tired is because they had poor quality sleep. Their body remained in stage 1 sleep for most of the time. The average sleep cycle is of 90 minutes duration and it begins with stage 1, the lightest sleep. Then a person progresses to deeper levels till stage 4. Post stage 4 is the phase of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) when a person dreams. But, often when people sleep long in stage 1 sleep, their bodies do not get the requisite relaxation and energy to get up and be active at full levels again.

What causes our bodies to oversleep?

Oversleeping has many causes as have been revealed by numerous studies. Depression has been cited as one of them. Since depression is linked to substantial changes in the amount of certain hormones that are released in the brain of a depressed person, it affects the parts of the brain that control sleep. Therefore, deeper stages of sleep often do not arrive resulting in tiredness.

Another unique cause of oversleeping is sleep apnea. This is a condition in which one often stops breathing momentarily during sleeping. Sleep apnea disturbs the sleep stage in which a person was and thus disrupts the entire sleep cycle. This results in the need for extra sleep but the body still not regains proper energy. Apart from causing tiredness there are long term impacts of this tiredness on the body.

Long term impacts of oversleeping linked to tiredness

In the longer term, people who oversleep can suffer from heart disease, diabetes, headaches, and obesity. As mentioned before, oversleeping is the result of disturbance in the normal healthy sleeping cycle of a person. Other processes of a human body like brain activity, heart functioning, digestion, etc., happen at a different rate during different sleep stages. Hence, frequent oversleeping disturbs the 24 hour cycle of these other processes. This results in greater wear and tear of vital organs without adequate repair and energizing mechanisms.

How to sleep well and never feel tired

This first solution to sleeping well has been documented in some of the most ancient texts and our grandparents have tried to hammer us in our heads since childhood. Go to bed, try to sleep with a relaxed mind without any disturbing thoughts and get up on time. And that time is about 8 hours.

The second simple remedy to avoid oversleeping is to expose oneself to morning sunlight. One can do this by walking briskly or exercising in bright morning daylight after a 7.5-8 hour sleep. Then again, people who often take a nap during free time in office must restrict it to 30 minutes. If it exceeds 30 minutes, the body begins to get into a stage called slow wave deep sleep. This can make you feel groggy.

The third thing is to avoid caffeine and alcohol close to your regular sleeping time. The best suggestions by numerous doctors have been to avoid caffeine after 4 pm in the evening. All in all, the key is to maintain balance in sleep, which is in sync with other processes in the body, to avoid feeling tired all the time and giving our best at work and at home.