Why Do I Feel Sleepy All the Time!?

Question: I go to bed at 11:00 pm and wake up by 6:30 am. On weekends, I sleep till about noon. But I still end up feeling sleepy throughout the day. How can I establish a better sleeping pattern and have better quality sleep? Also, do afternoon naps for an hour or so help, or do these sleep habits disturb sleep later on at night?

Answer: An inconsistent sleep schedule can affect your mood, concentration, and sense of wellbeing. Our body loves rhythm and predictability.

Stages of Sleep

During sleep, our body goes through a sleep cycle which consists of four stages i.e. Stages 1 to 3 followed by the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage.

Each stage plays a definite role in contributing to the sense of wellbeing and sensation of restfulness that we feel after a good night’s sleep. Sleep has a critical role in replenishing our depleted neuronal activities.

Related: 3 Ways to Improve Sleep Quality

Effects of Poor Sleep Habits

Irregular sleeping hours as well as irregular sleeping and waking times wreak havoc on the sleep pattern and disrupt the restorative process of sleep.

Sleepiness usually occurs because we do not stick to regular bedtimes. What's equally important is the lack of quality sleep hours. Sleep deprivation or lack of sleep is one of the most common causes of daytime sleepiness in Singapore.

A habit of taking excessively long afternoon naps can diminish the ability to fall asleep at night as our “sleep debt” is removed by the naps. This will lead to eventual sleep disruption and poor quality sleep.

Disrupted sleep patterns and the lack of sleep can leave us feeling more fatigued than ever. An irregular sleep routine can also result in mood changes and decreased cognitive ability, leaving us feeling disorientated and irritable, rather than rejuvenated.

How to Improve Your Sleep Patterns

#1 Have a Regular Sleep Pattern

If you can’t resist the urge to stay up late on Friday night, try going to bed a bit earlier on Saturday to ease your body clock back into a routine.

If all else fails, and you’ve not had a chance to get back to normal before Sunday night, go to bed earlier than usual to help prepare your brain for the waking-time change.

Try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day as having a regular sleep pattern sets your body clock for the rest of the day.

#2 Avoid Taking Afternoon Naps

Avoid taking afternoon naps if you can, but if you really need to, keep them to a brief 20 minutes. Long afternoon naps are unlikely to leave you feeling more refreshed.

#3 Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

For better quality sleep, avoid caffeine and alcohol use as these can have disruptive effects on sleep.

Dr. Chong Yaw Khian
Senior Consultant
Sleep Disorder Clinic
Tan Tock Seng Hospital

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