Too much sleep isn’t good or bad but it is telling us something. Ten or more hours of sleep is too much if it’s happening every night. If it’s occasional (usually on the weekend) it is a sign that there is a lack of sleep the rest of the week; sleeping too much becomes a sign of not enough of it.
When a person sleeps 10-12 hours on a given night after a series of less than optimal nights, the extra shut-eye is necessary, but can come with the cost of grogginess. This can lead people to think too much sleep is the culprit, when really, instilling healthier habits around it is the solution.
If a person sleeps 10-12 hours a night seven nights a week there might be an underlying health condition such as sleep apnea, depression, restless legs syndrome, hormone imbalance, or a food allergy. In this case, refer to a physician and consider a sleep study.
Why the grogginess?
Sleep inertia causes grogginess upon waking and the more sleep you are lacking, the more groggy you will be, even if you got plenty. Sleep debt accumulates. When the body doesn’t get enough sleep, stress hormones like cortisol are elevated and when you catch up on sleep it doesn’t feel so good to lose the stress buzz. When your body finally gets enough restful time it wants more.
Either way, scientists say that if you need caffeine before noon, you are not getting enough sleep on a consistent basis.
Four remedies for waking grogginess
- Quantity of sleep – About eight hours is the gold standard for sleep, but it is just an average of the most common range (7-9). Some people need more and others need less. Most people think they need less than they actually need. That’s the thing about sleep loss– it enhances denial! One way to find out the magic number is to prioritize sleep for a week. Go to bed at the same time every night and allow for nine hours plus 30 minutes to fall asleep. Some nights might have more volume than others, but at the end of one week, a person will start waking up naturally after a certain number of hours and feel rested most of the day. If that week of sleep is choppy and restless, it’s a sign of rebalancing, so a second week might be needed to work out the kinks.
- Quality of sleep – If a person sleeps 8-9 hours a night on a consistent basis and wakes up exhausted, there could be an underlying health condition or sleep disorder present. Something could be disrupting sleep such as the temperature of the room, screens too close to bedtime (interfering with melatonin), caffeine or alcohol too late in the day, or a bed partner or pet interrupting sleep cycles. Or, stress.
- Chronotype – Each person has a genetically wired tendency toward an ideal bedtime and rising time. Think early bird or night owl. If a person is sleeping 8-9 hours a night and still feeling off during the day, a schedule shift of 15 minutes in one direction or the other can help. It can take a few nights up to a week for the body to re-calculate, but when it’s right, it clicks.
- Consistency – Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day is important for sleep health and daytime energy levels. All 3-trillion cells in the human body set their watches on sleep times. Check out this blog on sleep timing to learn more about why a sleep rhythm is important.
A sleep journal can help people get more in tune with sleep health and see patterns from their choices. Check out the NFPT Sleep Coach Course for access to a sleep journal you can use with clients and all the tools necessary to help them sleep better.