Have you increased your hours of sleep, only to feel more tired?

I was reading another library book on sleep (The Sleep Diet by Dr Carmel Harrington), well skimming, which is a type of reading, and going blah, blah, blah. Nothing new. Checked the publication date. 2012. Too old. Sleep research has moved on. 

Also, and I know I shouldn’t hold this against the content but it would account for why I picked this book last to read, the paper is that cheap, rough paper and the print too small and dense. (Fashions in print I thought went out in the 1990s.)

But then I got to this line:

…when you implement change and start getting the hours of sleep that you really need, you may feel, initially, more tired than before, despite the fact that you are sleeping more.

Yes, that’s me every holidays. I thought I’d just caught a dose of lazy holiday fever!

The doctor goes on to say this is not due to too much sleep. 

Oh dear. I always have a go at Mr S, telling him off for sleeping too much during holidays and saying that by oversleeping he is causing himself to be more tired and thus sleeping more. And that what he needs to do is sleep less. “So get off the couch on the verandah you lazy thing!!!!”

So what causes the sleepiness when we increase our hours of sleep? 

The doctor says it is not understood yet but may be, if our sleep has been habitually short, say six hours, and we increase it to eight hours a “result of both the ‘unmasking’ of our sleep debt and the fact that we stop driving ourselves so hard in order to overcome our sleepiness.”

So it should pass. And we should eventually return to normal rhythms and wake energised. 

Except in our house we return to our short sleep patterns as term resumes and then have to catch up every term break when we stop pushing ourselves so feel sleepy again, despite more hours asleep. 

A cycle we need to stop. 


8 thoughts on “Have you increased your hours of sleep, only to feel more tired?

  1. OMG. I was wondering that exact issue when I went to France and suddenly started going to bed at my usual time (about 10:30pm) but then sleeping like crazy till 8am many mornings, thanks to the blissful winter dark. Soooo much sleep! Yet I still felt like I could sleep more.

    Really does indicate that it is so important to try to hit some work/life balance during the school term to stay healthier with both weight and sleep.

    I keep wondering now if I should work more in term breaks and then FORCE myself to work regular 8-9 hour days during term. But it’s often hard to avoid the excess hours when they involve functions on week nights…or night administrivia that can only happen while the kids are at school.

  2. I do that, too. Like the author of the books says, maybe when we get up after several nights of 8+ hours of sleep, and it isn’t a work day and we have nothing urgent to do, we call ourselves “lazy” because it feels so unnatural!

  3. I always seem to get about 6 1/2 – 7ish hours of sleep, with one 8ish hour stint a week to catch up (yay, Sundays!). I just checked my fitbit sleep tracker, and it seems that even on holidays, after a couple of BIG sleeps, I revert back to 7ish hours of sleep within 2-3 days. Himself, on the other hand, seems to need more sleep than me. We had a massive weekend (he had four hours sleep one night and six the other night) and he was asleep at 7pm on Sunday night, and napped most of yesterday. He’s still tired. I think his body clock broke doing shift work for 20+ years though.

  4. Nevil Shute’s novel Ruined City mentions this phenomenon – a successful businessman who has overworked himself all his life, and never slept enough, achieves a philanthropic resurrection of a whole town’s livelihood during the Depression via some shady deals and goes to prison for it. While there he principally sleeps, eats and works at mindless jobs in the prison workshop, and comes out a new man, having had enough sleep for the first time in his adult life.

    So maybe there is another solution – get sent to jail??

    While my gym buddy’s dad was in the nursing home we had fantasies of going to join him – all our meals cooked and housework done, and we could nap all day in a recliner:) So there you are – two solutions, jail or nursing home:)

    • Funny girl. Though when my kids were younger I did dream about having an illness that required hospitalisation but wasn’t painful or deadly. Just a week or two in a sanitarium. Didn’t have to be on Swiss alps.

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