Is it possible to have too much sleep?
Indeed it is and sleeping too long can make us as tired and lethargic as having too little. If you wake up tired after sleeping for eight hours or longer, more sleep is not what you need.
You may thinks that because you sleep too much you’re the exact opposite of those who have too little sleep. In fact excessive sleep is actually another form of insonmia. Yes really! Because you’re not acheiving the right kind of rest, this is why you find it so hard to get up, or perhaps you have problems with sleepiness during the day.
Why do you still feel so tired after sleeping for so long?
Too much sleep can weaken your sleep system. Your body is not awake for long enough to absorb enough sunlight, get enough exercise or engage in enough tiring activities.
Your body temperature takes a long time to climb to normal in the morning making you very drowsy for several hours after waking. In fact your body temperature may not climb to its peak at all, so you may feel lethargic all day. This is because excess melatonin that has been released by keeping your eyes closed for a long time does not dissipate quickly leaving you feeling drowsy and drained of energy.
Too much sleep can actually weaken your immune system leading to lowered resistance to colds, flu or worse.
So what can we do?
A better quality of sleep is what’s needed rather than more sleep. Sleep needs to be optimised so that you can sleep a lot less and feel more energised and are actually healthier. Quite often we don’t get enough deep sleep even when we are sleeping eight hours or more. Deep sleep is the most important type of sleep out body needs.
One quick way to feel more energised during the day is to do some exercise. This raises your body temperature and wakes up your whole body. Your lungs will fill with healthy oxygen. Get out into the sunlight if possible, this will strengthen the sleep system and you’ll be creating better deeper sleep for yourself at night.
The worst thing you can do to try and wake yourself up is to consume yet more coffee. You may get a quick energy boost but too much coffee can have a disastrous effect on your sleep system, stress levels and circadian rhythm.
Bright light therapy
Bright light therapy, sometimes known as phototherapy, is the use of artificial light to bring your melatonin levels down when you get out of bed. This helps to wake you up and increases your energy levels. Take care that the light emitted from these devices contains no ultra violet light which can damage the eyes. People with eye problems would also be wise to steer clear.
Bright light therapy is also used to help people with “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) which can affect those who get depressed in the short dark days of winter. Using bright light therapy also increases serotonin levels which increases the feeling of well being. It has been established that people who have SAD have low levels of serotonin – possibly through lack of sunlight. Those affected by jet lag can also use bright light therapy to bring their circadian rhythms back to normal after travelling through different time zones.
Our page on Polyphasic sleep is one method used by certain people to dramatically cut their sleeping time, but is not recommended for long term use.
The only way to safely cut down on your time spent asleep is to increase your deep sleep. The above suggestions are a start, but if you want soothing good quality sleep for the rest of your life you need to dig a little deeper. Invest a little time now to unlock the mysteries of sleep and the body clock and you may be able to reclaim up to a couple of hours a day.