I’m a chronically tired person, and I think I speak for many chronically tired people when I say I’m tired of being told to just sleep more. That’s because no matter how many hours of sleep I get, I wake up exhausted. This isn’t uncommon, and it can have a variety of causes, from bad habits to medical conditions. Whatever the problem, what’s clear is that the solution isn’t always more sleep.
“It’s not just the quantity of sleep. It’s also the quality,” family medicine doctor Susan Besser, MD tells Bustle. Most people need six to eight hours of sleep per night, she adds. But while that’s necessary to perform at optimum energy, it’s not sufficient. You also need to sleep uninterrupted through the night.
“Sleep is not just one stage — it’s a continuum of several stages of sleep from light (REM) sleep to deep sleep,” Besser says. “During the night, we cycle through these stages. The full cycle takes about 90 minutes, so there are several cycles throughout the night. If sleep is disrupted or fragmented, you might miss a stage, and that affects sleep quality.”
Here are some ways experts say your nights might get disrupted and leave you exhausted no matter how much sleep you get.