Getting adequate sleep, but more tired during the day?
March 3, 2006 4:24 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend usually gets about 5-6 hours of sleep a night during the week. What happens is that by the time the weekend comes, he's falling asleep in a chair by 8pm and we can't go out and do anything. For instance, we haven't been going to the movies because he's afraid he'll fall asleep during the movie, even if it is interesting to him. I told him this bothered me a lot and he said he would work on getting more sleep. This week he has been getting about 7-8 hours each night. The problem is he is very tired during the day now.

He even overslept and was late for work this morning. This doesn't make a lot of sense to either of us, so I thought I would see if it has happened to someone else or if there were suggestions on how he can get adequate sleep and feel okay during the day.

Side notes:
He is a fair amount overweight
I don't think he has sleep apnea as I've laid next to him while he was sleeping for many hours and he doesn't seem to have breathing problems
He sleeps like a rock, sometimes it's hard to wake him up
He has been drinking "energy drinks" (Rockstar) during the day. I'm not sure how much of these he drinks though, sometimes none and sometimes up to 2 a day I think.
He recently started exercising because we bought a stationary recumbent bike. He does that about 3 days a week.

Any suggestions are appreciated.
posted by disaster77 to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used to do this exactly and fixed it by having a nap for exactly one hour after work, at around 5:30 to 6:30 ... It was pretty hard to wake up but once I did, I had energy to last for a long night!
posted by jlstitt at 4:28 PM on March 3, 2006

How long has this been going on? Has he been tested for mononucleosis?
posted by orangeshoe at 4:29 PM on March 3, 2006

What are his normal sleep hours during the week? I mean, what time does he go to sleep and what time does he wake?
posted by litlnemo at 4:37 PM on March 3, 2006

I am more tired if I sleep 7 hours than if I sleep <6 or>8. So, his attempt to sleep more may be backfiring.

No matter how much I sleep, I get very sleepy (i.e. falling asleep sitting up) in the afternoon and battle it with massive amounts of caffeine. Well, not really massive, but I generally have 3 cups of strong coffee in the morning and a soda or two in the afternoon. I treat caffeine as medication and dose myself accordingly. It's important to remember that it takes about an hour for the caffiene to kick in, so give ti time to kick in. Also, a full size monster energy drink has about as much caffeine as one strong drip brewed cup of coffee, so stick with black gold for real results.
posted by tcobretti at 4:41 PM on March 3, 2006

This has only been going on this week so far.

During the week usually goes to bed at about midnight and wakes up at 5:30am. He has changed that by going to be at about 10pm and getting up at 5:30am still.
posted by disaster77 at 4:49 PM on March 3, 2006

It could be just as simple as adapting to a new sleep schedule, as well. It can take a couple of months to fully adapt to a new sleep cycle, and I remember reading a study some time ago that suggested that keeping an irregular schedule could actually do harm.

A few years ago I had to suddenly adjust to a new job that required me to be at work two hours earlier in the morning than I was used to. The first month or two sucked eight kinds of ass, I was so tired during the day, even though I was getting a little more sleep than I had been getting previously. But after I adjusted, I was loving it. Best schedule I ever worked.

If that's all it is, his body and brain will gradually adjust to the new hours so he's not in as deep a cycle of sleep when his alarm goes off in the morning, so he won't feel as wasted when he gets out of bed and starts the day.

I'd say give it a few weeks, keep up with the exercise, and see if it gets better. If not, he may want to talk to a doctor.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:51 PM on March 3, 2006

Sleep is kinda funky.

Of course sleep apnea comes to mind in people who are overweight and have sleep-related complaints. Surprisingly, it can affect skinny people, too. At any rate, I'd first read up on "sleep hygeine." The idea is to make sleep more restful. Get rid of caffeine after noonish, don't take naps, only sleep in bed (no reading, etc.), don't drink alcohol before bedtime, etc. Avoid any sleeping pills/benadryl. Work incrementally towards the sleep time goal.

Add exercise, possibly add melatonin.

All this said, any change in sleep patterns is gonna suck rocks. Everyone has their own sleep patterns, and adding or subtracting from total sleep time will mess with this; there are five stages of sleep, and sleeping for more or less time might result in plopping oneself into one of the deep sleep stages.

I think middleclasstool's advice is pretty spot-on. Give it several weeks. Stick with the exercise. Then maybe go see a doctor, who might refer your boyfriend to a sleep center, where he'll get hooked up to a bunch of sensors and learn cool things about his sleep patterns.
posted by herrdoktor at 5:12 PM on March 3, 2006

OK, not to be rude, but do you think he wants to go out on weekends? Maybe he's not an energetic person.

A couple other tidbits:

+ Maybe he should try exercising every day instead of 3 days a week. That can give you more energy
+ Varying your sleeping schedule helps too. So maybe he can sleep his 5-6 hrs on Mon Tue and Wed, but Thu and Fri he can sleep extra. This could provide more weekend energy.
posted by b_thinky at 5:26 PM on March 3, 2006

I've heard that if you don't get up out of bed quickly, but lie there semi-awake, that it can make you sleepy during the day. Maybe he's getting more time in bed, but not more quality sleep time.
posted by 445supermag at 5:48 PM on March 3, 2006

I second tcobretti. The more-rested but also-alert magic number may require some experimentation.
posted by desuetude at 6:48 PM on March 3, 2006

If the problems persist, I would talk to your family doctor. There are a number of sleep related problems that can be diagnosed by a sleep study that might not be apnea, but could cause problems like these (like restless legs syndrome).
posted by jeversol at 6:56 PM on March 3, 2006

He needs to cut out the shitty energy drinks.
posted by cellphone at 7:13 PM on March 3, 2006

Oh yeah, and cellphone's right. Quit with the energy drinks. How will he know if he's actually feeling well-rested during the day if he's used to dosing himself with caffeine and sugar?
posted by desuetude at 7:54 PM on March 3, 2006

Cardio exercise such as stationary bike can and should be done on a daily basis. It's only muscle training that needs recovery time. He should be breaking a sweat on that bike for 30-40 minutes a day, and an hour a day if he really wants to lose weight. That will help him sleep better, give it a more deep sleep feeling.
posted by furtive at 8:27 PM on March 3, 2006

When I switched over from college to the "real world", I had this same problem... in college, I'd be sleeping 5 hours a night, and sleep ALL saturday to catch up...

Eventually I decided I wanted to change, so I started forcing myself to go to sleep when my gf went to bed... the first month I was SOOOO TIRED.. but eventually it evened out....

give it time, he just has to get used to it

oh, and I'm going to 1-up Cellphone and suggest quitting caffeine completely while he's transitioning...
posted by hatsix at 8:28 PM on March 3, 2006

It may be that his body is adjusting to NOT being sleep deprived. In my experience, when you are chronically low on restorative sleep, adrenaline can get you through as long as you have to (at least until you can crash and try to make up your sleep debt, like your boyfriend is doing on the weekend). But, there is an adjustment when you are are getting by on actual rest. When I had a baby and got crap sleep for two years, anytime I got a full night I seemed more tired the next day. But when I finally began getting enough sleep on a regular basis, I felt SO much better that I then realized how non-functional I had been before. Just give it some time, he will be better for it.
posted by rintj at 8:36 PM on March 3, 2006

he's got to give it a few weeks before he can know if it's really working for him ... right now his sleep clock is all screwed up and it's just going to take him awhile to adjust to getting enough sleep
posted by pyramid termite at 9:05 PM on March 3, 2006

I'm surprised that no one's mentioned this (or if they did, I missed it): a normal sleep cycle is on average 90 minutes. So sleeping six hours will give you four sleep cycles, sleeping seven and a half hours will give you five sleep cycles, sleeping nine hours will give you six sleep cycles, etc. Why is it important to know these benchmark times? Because interrupting a sleep cycle can make you feel more tired, even if you've gotten more sleep.

So he might want to try timing when he goes to bed such that he'll be on the mark for getting several full sleep cycles, no more and no less. That could definitely help. I've read that many people feel better rested after even just three full sleep cycles (four and a half hours) than they do after, say, five hours of sleep. To make this work, he'll need to assess how long he lies there on average before actually falling asleep—'cause that will factor into when he should go to sleep as well.

And ditto the suggestion to cut the caffeine—for me, only once I go cold turkey can I really stay in a normal sleep pattern. When I drink a lot of caffeine daily, on the other hand, it completely throws me off—I stay up later and later and sleep worse when I finally do sleep. My mood suffers because of this. I know there's a cultural bias towards drinking a lot of caffeine—people think it makes them quicker on the uptake, wittier and more productive. They can't imagine going without it. I had the same attitude for years! But for some people, like me, caffeine tends to cause major problems with sleep and can bring on depressive episodes.
posted by limeonaire at 9:27 PM on March 3, 2006

Also, the fact that he's recently started exercising more could be a key factor here. He definitely needs time to adjust to that—whenever I start a new exercise routine, I usually find I need to start going to sleep earlier for a while, because I get absolutely exhausted. Same thing when starting a new job or a new routine of any sort—anything that takes extra mental or physical effort will tax his energy.
posted by limeonaire at 9:42 PM on March 3, 2006

First: Cut the energy drinks. caffeine will drag you down when you don't have it and are addicted, forcing you to drink more. Plus, almost all of them taste horrible, and cover it up by using sugars. He'll probably drop 10lbs just from this change. I've gone cold turkey mostly, I drink 7-UP/Sprite/Non caffeinated stuff when I want soda.

Second: Up the work outs to 4 or 5 times a week, start them in the morning. Directly after, have a big breakfast.

Third: Have him go to a doctor and get a blood workup. Specifically, let the doctor know the symptoms and request that thyroid tests be done. Nothing extra is done on your end for this. They take the blood, do the sugar/cholesterol/thyroid and other stuff all from the same vial. Most doctors don't test for it unless asked or there is a family history.

This really sounds like it could indeed be HypoThyroidism. Atleast, from my perspective, as it sounds like me, and I have Hypo-active Thyroid. The key to me here, was that he's still tired on the weekends, like he has to catch up on sleep. This is not the way sleep works. You can't 'miss' sleep and then 'catchup' later. I believe the famous DJ that stayed up for a few days, when he finally went to bed, only slept for 9 hours and woke up feeling normal again.

So sleep is not the issue here, it sounds more like a low metabolism. When the body doesn't have enough energy, it gets tired, and we register that as wanting to sleep, in most cases.

Anyway, if it is the case, it's very treatable. If you need more info or want to chat about symptoms you didn't list here, email is in my profile.
posted by Phynix at 11:34 PM on March 3, 2006

Every adult past the age of thirty should be screened once for hypothyroidism, according to some guidelines, but I doubt that's what's going on here.

I second the idea of cutting out the energy drinks. Rebound/withdrawal from these things produces lots of sleepiness/fatigue. See if he can eliminate caffeine and other stimulants entirely (if he's willing).

It might be worth addressing the diet. Eating a lot of fatty or carb-heavy foods at dinner produces sleepiness; he may be eating more than he needs, and/or the wrong kind of food.

Also, give a month or two for the body to adjust to the new routine. Sounds like a lot of changes have been made recently.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2006

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