Yes, you know the feeling. Got time off so you can go to sleep for longer but find that you are, in fact, more tired than you thought all that extra snooze-time would have gotten you.
Oversleeping feels so much like a hangover that scientists call it sleep drunkenness. But, unlike the brute force neurological damage caused by alcohol, your misguided attempt to stock up on rest makes you feel sluggish by confusing the part of your brain that controls your body’s daily cycle.
A study seems to suggest that sleeping too much could be throwing your circadian clock off. See, our internal rhythms are regulated by an internal pacemaker, which is located in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls, amongst other things, thirst and hunger. It is this pacemaker’s job to tell night from day and to send signals all over the body so that all the areas are on the same clock.
The study says that this pacemaker evolved in the human species to manage energy on a daily basis. Sleeping too little, therefore, is as much an aberration as sleeping too little.
And It’s Not Just About Feeling Sleepy….
The disruption of the sleep cycle and the circadian clock won’t just make you sleepy, but Harvard University’s extensive study says that those who sleep between 9 to 11 hours developed not only memory problems but also had a greater likelihood to develop heart disease. Oversleepers can have high blood pressure, diabetes and narrowed blood vessels.
So, What Does One Do?
- Establish a regular bedtime. And establish a regular routine for bedtime, like taking a bath or meditating.
- Don’t use your bed for anything other than sleep (or sex) so please don’t do your reading and TV-watching in bed.
- Get 45 minutes of at least moderate exercise a day.
- Don’t go to sleep after heaving a heavy meal, but don’t go to sleep hungry either. Time your dinner well.
- Try not to have too much caffeine later in the day and by that, I mean 2 p.m.
- Though alcohol might help put you to sleep, it does affect the quality of sleep. Avoid drinking after dinner.
- Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and – dark. The latter is a must because the pacemaker we talked about earlier used light to orient itself timewise.
- If you must take power naps during the day, limit them to 20-30 minutes.