Sleep is a fickle thing. When you get it right, it’s glorious. You wake up well rested, recharged, and ready for the day. But sometimes even when that happens, something distressing happens not long after. Despite getting your recommended seven to eight hours of quality sleep, you wind up still feeling tired. Sound familiar? Keep reading to find out what’s going on!
The amount and quality of sleep you get is paramount. But keeping an irregular sleep schedule can take what would be a restful night’s sleep and make it less restorative. Why? Because it throws off your circadian rhythm, a.k.a. your body’s internal clock. Quick science refresher: your circadian rhythm is an internal system that regulates feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness. And it likes consistency. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule keeps your circadian rhythm balanced and functioning as it should. Meaning when you go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, your body is able to keep you alert during the hours you’re awake and sleepy during the hours you’re supposed to be asleep. So when you go bed at 10 p.m. one night and 2 a.m. the next, it throws off your clock and can leave you feeling tired—even if you get plenty of sleep each night. Sadly, that means yes, sleeping in on Sundays is part of the reason Monday mornings are such a struggle.
The other important component of maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm has to do with timing. Your circadian rhythm is controlled by light, and it’s not really something you can train. Humans are most alert during hours of daylight and the feel the strongest desire to sleep during the hours after the sun goes down. Pretty straightforward, right? But now think about what time the sun usually rises—between 5:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. That’s about the time your body starts getting the signal that it’s time to wake up. Which means the later you get into bed, the more you confuse your internal clock. You could be just approaching the deepest stage of your sleep cycle, but your internal clock is already sending the signal to wake up. Not surprisingly, when this happens, you wake up feeling tired—even if you ended up sleeping for eight hours.
The bottom line is you can’t outsmart your body’s internal clock. As much as we’d all probably like to think otherwise, you can’t make it fit your schedule, and trying to do so will only make things worse. Get plenty of sleep, but do it the right way, and you’ll put the days of always feeling tired behind you.
Do you listen to your body clock? Tell us below!