Post by Kyle St. Romain.
One thing you’re unlikely to hear someone complaining about is getting too much sleep. In fact, most of us long for sleeping in on the weekends or catching up on some much needed sleep that work, family, and other responsibilities deprive us of. However, sleeping too much or oversleeping can be just as unhealthy as not sleeping enough. The trick to sleep, like many things in life, is balance.
Everyone needs a different amount of sleep, just like different cars need a different amount of gasoline to travel the same distance. The general rule is that you should try to get around eight hours of sleep per day, and most people will fall within one hour of this requirement. Your actual need for sleep depends on the amount of stress your experiencing and how physically active you are, to name a few. If you don’t sleep enough, you accumulate a sleep debt; however if you sleep too much you don’t necessarily accumulate a sleep credit.
Oversleeping, also called hypersomnia, is a serious medical disorder. Symptoms associated with hypersomnia include anxiety, low energy, mental problems, and a constant need for more sleep. Hypersomnia has also been linked to increased risk for diabetes, obesity, headaches, back pain, depression, heart disease, and even death. If you’d like to read more about how hypersomnia increases your health risks, check out this article on oversleeping by WebMD.
The good news is that hypersomnia is a very fixable problem. Sometimes, hypersomnia is brought on by underlying medical conditions, which you’d need to see a doctor for; however, it’s more common that hypersomnia is simply a result of poor sleep hygiene. Below is a list of tips and suggestions to help you regain control over your sleep habits.
1. Establish a regular sleep routine. Humans are creatures of habits, and if you can discipline yourself to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, getting the right amount of sleep will be easier. It takes about 30 days of doing something or not doing something before it becomes a habit, so it’s important to stick with your sleep routine for at least one month.
2. Plan your day. If you have a plan of attack going into each day, you’ll know exactly how much time you need to get everything done. Having a plan can help you realize that oversleeping is depriving you of doing the things you want during the day.
3. Optimize your wake up routine. It’s important to look forward to getting out of bed in the morning. Since the morning commute likely isn’t a big motivator, think about all the things you love doing before you officially start your day. Set aside some time in the morning especially for yourself. Do you love a fresh, hot cup of coffee in the morning? Do you like to read the newspaper before getting your day started? Maybe you like to take a hot shower with an invigorating body wash. Whatever it is, figure out what makes you happiest in the morning and you may actually look forward to getting out of bed.
4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine before you go to bed. Stimulants and depressants can affect your body’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. If you want to drink something to help you sleep, try a warm glass of milk before bed.
5. Exercise regularly. Exercise is linked to a number of health benefits, including better sleep. Going for a jog, participating in a yoga class, or lifting weights at the gym helps cleanse your body of impurities that build up throughout the day. Exercise also drains any extra energy you may have left over from the day, which can help you fall asleep faster.
The above suggestions are just a couple ways to help you improve your sleep hygiene. If you find that you cannot break yourself of oversleeping, you may also want to consider making an appointment with your doctor.
Do you sleep too much, or not enough? Do you have any morning rituals you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments below.