Oversleeping versus Under-Sleeping

Tired man under the duvet in bed

While AU students work and study from home during the pandemic, sleep is a persistent issue that many face.  The pre-pandemic era might have meant our obligations were in person and forced us to stick to a potentially rigid routine, whereas during the pandemic our schedules may be more fluid.  This fluidity doesn’t always lead to better sleep.  Especially if our routines have been reversed.  For myself, last summer I had days where I woke up at noon or slept at odd hours in the afternoon.  Sometimes sleeping on average six hours and other times sleeping in short bursts of two or three hours.  This lack of circadian rhythm can be detrimental as it may leave lasting impacts on our health if occurring over the long term.  Let’s take a look at how oversleeping and under-sleeping can impact us.

Oversleeping:

While we often speak of under-sleeping or sleeping less than the recommended 7-9 hours as an adult, oversleeping can be a health issue as well.  If you’re well-rested but still in bed or sleeping more than the recommended hours a night, it may be a sign that there are underlying health issues.  Oversleeping is linked to depression, obesity, heart disease and many more chronic conditions, for example.  And ironically, oversleeping may leave your body feeling even more fatigued and lethargic.

According to Harvard Medical School blog, the quality of sleep is much more important than the total number of hours spent in bed.  Specifically, individuals should tailor their sleep to their own needs.  For example, I’m someone who needs the full recommended 8 hours of sleep each night and disruptions, including wakings in the night or eating heavy meals before bed, can impede my restful sleep cycle.  One solution I’ve found useful is to maintain the same schedule on weekends and holidays as I do on the weekdays.  After figuring out the number of hours you need, make sure you set your alarm up and maintain consistency for good rest.

Under-sleeping:

This is frequently the subject of many conversations as many adults do not sleep the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  Personally, this has been a persistent problem for my own health, as sleeping for less than 8 hours of sleep can create noticeable behavioral changes the next day.  I find myself crankier, less focused, and even unmotivated to perform daily tasks.

A band aid solution to this may include a large cup of black coffee, but a vicious cycle then starts when I have trouble falling asleep the same day.  It’s been demonstrated  that substances including alcohol, caffeine and other medications may also impact your ability to sleep.  One solution that I’ve found useful is meditating an hour before bed to truly unwind my mind.

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