Have you ever gotten a solid eight hours of sleep, only to wake up the next day exhausted and lethargic as ever? This may be one of the signs that you aren't sleeping as well as you think you are, and you're probably not be sleeping as deeply as you may think. Although many of us may be getting the right number of hours of sleep per night, there are a few signals that can let us know when our body needs just a little (or a lot) more.
Everything from what you ate that day to what you do before bed can have an effect on the quality of your sleep, which means sleep is not just about the numbers, but also the quality of the sleep itself. In addition to sleeping an adequate amount of time, you want to make sure you're reaching REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, your deepest stage of sleeping. REM is essential for not only feeling rested, but for renewing your brain and solidifying memories, according to Harvard Medical's healthy sleep website.
"Too much stress and overworking can drain the system and negatively impact sleep quality," says Dr. Kim McQueen, a naturopathic doctor over email. "When you are on the go or stressed, your body produces more cortisol and stimulates the sympathetic side of your nervous system."
If you suspect you may not be getting restful sleep at night, try looking for these five signs that your sleep may not be as deep as you think.
1. You Frequently Go To The Bathroom During The Night
"Most often, if you are sleeping deeply then you won’t notice your bladder calling, says McQueen. "For some people, because the sleep is superficial, they notice the need to use the bathroom and this disrupts the sleep."
2. You Wake Up Tired
"If sleep quality is good then you should wake refreshed, meaning you have energy, wide eyes and an urge to get out of bed," says McQueen. Many people turn to coffee when they feel this way, but you may need to look at the root of the problem. Make sure you aren't using technology before bed or aren't consuming caffeine too late in the day.
3. You're Sleeping In Late On The Weekends
If you're able to sleep more than 12 hours on the weekend, it may be a sign your body isn't getting enough sleep during the week. To make matters worse, sleeping in is actually worse for your body, as changing up your sleep schedule throws off your body's natural circadian rhythm.
4. You Have A Surge Of Productivity Before Bed
"The body’s hormones have a daily rhythm with an early morning surge in some hormones, such as cortisol, to get you started and going," says McQueen. "Cortisol should peter out by the end of the day, allowing your body to fall asleep, rest and recuperate." When the body gets over-tired it will produce more stress hormone to keep up, and you can feel this as a boost of energy, which means your body probably didn't get the relaxation it needed the night before, she says.
5. You're Craving Junk Food More Often Than Is Normal For You
If you find yourself craving fast food, this may be a signal from your body that you haven't been sleeping enough. Studies from Berkeley have found that lack of sleep can lead to increased junk food cravings. This can perpetuate a bad sleep cycle, as high fat and high calorie foods can keep you up at night.
Any one of these signs may not necessarily mean you're not getting enough sleep, but if you're feeling more tired than normal, then paying attention to these signals may just help you get a few more quality Zs at night.