Everyone knows from research that it is detrimental to our health if we under-sleep, but what about over-sleeping; could it also be just as unhealthy for us? It in fact is.
The optimal length of time to sleep every night is 7.5 to 9 hours. If individuals sleep up to or between these time periods, they will function at their best. People believe that sleeping more will provide you more energy, but this is incorrect, sleeping too much can actually make you feel more tired. When you sleep more than nine hours a day you are more likely to get headaches, and because of this people usually feel more tired. The reason for headaches is because the release of serotonin is effected. Serotonin is most actively released when you are awake, and is inhibited while you are sleeping. Serotonin has many important functions in the body including:
- regulating your mood,
- food digestion,
- and bone growth.
When people oversleep, they are awake less of the day, which means that less serotonin is released than should be and which leads to two major side effects of oversleeping; headaches and weight gain. Other side effects of oversleeping are depression, diabetes, and also increased chance of heart disease.
So how can you prevent oversleeping?
One of the most important things one can do to prevent oversleeping is to have a sleep routine. Wake up and hit the sack around the same time everyday. Your body will adapt naturally and will allow you to fall asleep quicker. This will also prevent you from waking up in the middle of the night. Further, exposing yourself to sunlight during the day will help you fall asleep quicker. The reason for this is because when you are exposed to sunlight, the sun causes certain chemicals to be released which cause your inner sleep clock to turn off. When light comes into your eye it travels through the retina, and into the light signal which is sent to the brain via the optic nerve. When this signal reaches the brain, it causes certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, to be released and the release of this neurotransmitter is what tells your brain it is time to wake up. That is why sleeping in complete darkness will allow you to have the most effective sleep.
What about power naps?
Power naps are when you sleep for a short period of times to get a boost of energy. Research has proven that taking power naps has actually proven to enhance memory and boosts your performance to an optimal level. Naps have been proven to be most effective for duration of 15-30 minutes. The reason for this is that after the 30 minutes you body starts to enter the actual sleep cycle, which should last 7.5 to 9 hours, however it does not complete the cycle. For this reason people become more cranky and tired after taking a nap. So make sure if your going to take a nap, only do so for 30 minutes, after this period, naps have negative effects.
Stay tuned for next week’s health tip!
Written by: Noreen