You wake up, rub your eyes, and let out a yawn or it’s lunchtime and you can’t help but wish for a nap—daytime sleepiness has struck.
Excessive daytime sleepiness or hypersomnia is common and affects close to 20% of the population and can stem from sleep deprivation, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, or even medications. Daytime sleepiness can disrupt your daily activities when you aren’t receiving your recommended hours of productive sleep a night. Daytime sleepiness can cause you to have a loss in productivity, brain fog, short-term memory issues, or nodding off behind the wheel, which contributes to more than 100,000 motor vehicle accidents a year.
We know that daytime sleepiness can be frustrating. If you regularly nap throughout the day, fall asleep while performing daily tasks, or still long for more sleep after hours of sleep, daytime sleepiness may be the culprit.
Let’s dive into some gifs that those with daytime sleepiness can relate to.
Still Feeling Tired After Hours of Sleep
If you wake up still feeling exhausted after six to eight hours of sleep a night, you may not be successfully cycling through each stage of sleep. You will cycle through each sleep stage four to six times each night and reaching your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage is imperative to wake up feeling refreshed. In REM sleep, your body heals and repairs due to the removal of built-up toxins that accumulate throughout the day. Without the deep sleep found in the REM stage, you will feel fatigued throughout the day. If you wake up frequently throughout the night, you will have to start your sleep cycle over, leading to daytime tiredness.
Napping Throughout the Day
Napping too late in the day can lead to interruptions in your nightly sleep, causing you to feel awake when it’s time to fall asleep and compromising your sleep-wake times. If you feel the urge to nap for an hour or longer, you may cycle into your deep (REM) sleep stage, which will cause sleep inertia. Sleep inertia causes you to wake up from your nap feeling groggy and more tired than when you fell asleep. If you still feel like you need a nap during the day, power naps between 15 and 20 minutes are your best bet and can leave you feeling re-energized and more productive to take on the rest of your day. While power naps are the most effective, if you’re wanting to sleep for a little longer, limit your nap to under an hour between 2 pm and 3 pm.
Irregular Sleep Schedule
Working the night shift is often unavoidable, but did you know that it could be a cause of your daytime sleepiness? On your day off, you may feel perpetual daytime sleepiness and the feelings of jet lag. Working the night shift affects your internal clock as a result of missing periods of high-quality sleep. In a 24-hour period, your circadian rhythm controls your sleep-wake cycle and produces melatonin at night when it’s dark and time to sleep. When your circadian rhythm is misaligned, your internal clock will send signals to your body that may conflict with your daytime or nighttime activities.
Increased Caffeine Consumption
Myth buster time—caffeine’s effect on your body can actually make your daytime sleepiness worse. Caffeine interferes with your body’s adenosine, which is a chemical in your central nervous system that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Throughout the day, your adenosine increases and decreases when you fall asleep. When you grab your morning cup of coffee, your adenosine receptors are blocked but the formation of adenosine doesn’t stop. While coffee may give you a boost of energy at first, coffee can take up to 24-hours to be completely out of your system, meaning it slowly diminishes throughout the day. When the caffeine energy boost begins to wear off, the buildup of adenosine will start to bind to its receptors and cause you to feel tired, meaning your multiple cups of coffee throughout the day may end up doing more harm than good.
Developing a sound bedtime routine consisting of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can actually aid in the reduction of daytime sleepiness. Try to spend 30 to 60 minutes a night unwinding by stretching, meditating, listening to music, or taking a bath. Put your phone or blue light devices to bed a few hours before hitting the hay. Blue light devices can suppress your melatonin production in your pineal gland and interfere with your sleep-wake cycle. Lastly, talk to your doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing. Waking up frequently throughout the night can be potentially due to sleep apnea and can lead to daytime sleepiness.
Take back your day—and night—to start feeling productive and awake throughout the day!
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