Sleep is important, that's something that everyone knows. But even though we all know it's important, getting a good night's rest is much easier in theory than in practice, and you definitely feel it when you wake up in the morning feeling groggy and irritable. In this article, you're going to learn what's going on in your body when you sleep, how much is too much, causes, risks, and (finally) how you can go about finally getting the shut eye you need.
What happens when you sleep?
There a lot of things that happen to your body when you sleep, but there are four major stages.
N1 is that state right between being awake and asleep. N2 is when your breathing regulates and your body temperature drops.
N3 is where things really start getting interesting. It tends to be the deepest state of sleep. Your blood pressure goes down, your breathing slows, and tissue growth and repair occurs. This is when your body releases your growth hormone that keeps your muscles healthy.
REM happens within the first 90 minutes of sleep, and reoccurs around every 90 minutes the longer you sleep. This is when you muscles turn off and you start dreaming. This stage is what gives your brain and body energy.
How much is too much?
Too put it simply, anything more than 9 hours on average. Most adults need somewhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but it varies from person to person depending on your circumstances and how active you are. For example: if you're coming down with a cold or have been really stressed with work or school, you may need a bit more than others.
Things that affect your sleep
It no secret that alcohol has adverse affects on your health and well being, and sleep is no exception.
While low doses will not effect you as much, moderate to high doses can make you sleep longer but less efficiently. The total amount of REM sleep is reduced for moderate to high, but the first cycle is delayed for all doses.
The next time you want to have a night cap, keep in mind how it will effect your sleep.
This one probably seem obvious. While caffeine can help you stay awake and get through a busy day, too much or too late can have major impacts on how you sleep.
As well as making it more difficult to fall asleep, it can also cause sleep disturbances which means that you wake up more during the night and disrupt your sleep cycle.
Not only that, but caffeine is a diuretic. That means that you're even more likely to have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
Despite the name, sleep disorders don't only affect you when you're sleeping, they can hinder your waking hours too.
Insomnia: Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder that is characterized by having a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. There are two main types of insomnia, acute and chronic.
Acute insomnia tends to be short term, lasting from a day to a week. It's a risk for oversleeping simply because someone suffering from it is so exhausted after a restless night that they need a lot more sleep in the following week.
Chronic insomnia lasts a lot longer, usually a month or two at a time. Things like caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco tend to be huge culprits of this one.
Hypersomnia: Hypersomnia is one of the biggest causes of oversleeping. It refers to either excessive sleepiness during the day or overly long periods of sleep at night.
It affects almost 5 percent of the population centered around teenagers and young adults.
Sleep Apnea: There are two general types of sleep apnea, and while it's quite common that doesn't stop it from being a bit scary.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway gets blocked during sleep, resulting in stuttering or completely stopped breathing.
Central sleep apnea is when the brain doesn't send signals to your body to breath while you sleep.
Depression: Depression and oversleeping tend to go hand in hand, with the overall low energy and tendency towards insomnia and hypersomnia. Unfortunately, oversleeping can be extremely detrimental to the recovery process.
Risks of oversleeping
Headaches: Oversleeping can disrupt the balance of your serotonin and neurotransmitters, resulting in nasty headaches. To add insult to injury, it can cause you to stay up later the next night, resulting in a sleep deprivation headache when you wake up.
Back pain: Laying down for so long can cause or aggravate existing back pain. With back pain, it is advised to stay active and moving as much as possible so sleeping for a lot longer than necessary is almost guaranteed to have you in pain.
Heart disease: Studies have shown that people who sleep for 9 to 11 hours a night are 38 percent more likely to develop a coronary heart disease.
Diabetes: Your body is unable to burn off the extra glucose when you sleep a lot longer. This can result in a myriad of health problems, including diabetes and obesity.
How do you fix it?
Luckily there are a lot of methods to go about getting a good night's sleep without overdoing it!
The first would be to change your sleep schedule. Set a specific time that you need to sleep and a specific time to wake up and stick to it as best you can. It can be difficult to maintain if you have a lot of work, school, or just want to play another round of your favorite video game, but it's worth it when you factor in the risks you face for oversleeping.
The next would be to try waking up without an alarm. It sounds daunting, but it's actually quite simple. Just scale back your bed time until you naturally wake up when you want. For example: You got to bed at 11pm and wake up at 7am but want to wake up at 6am, go to bed at 10pm the next day. It's advised to start this on a weekend so you don't miss any appointments!
Another would be to change your morning routine. Don't hit the snooze on your alarm and get out of bed as soon as it goes off. Try to stretch and get your blood flowing immediately so you don't feel tempted to hop back under the covers.
There are some neat clocks out there that simulate the sun rising in tandem with the alarm that can help out a lot with the lingering grogginess.
If you try these and even other methods, it's advised that you see a doctor as soon as you can to find out if you have a sleep disorder. From there, they can help you out a whole lot more than these methods.
Sleep is important for every part of your life from mental to physical. But too much can get you into a lot of trouble. Hopefully this guide has helped you out with learning everything you need to know to jump start your day with a good night's rest.