Why do I “feel better” when I get less Deep and REM than more? This is really puzzling, especially since Deep and REM are key restorative parts of sleep.
We all have different sleep needs, and no single, precise amount of sleep in any of the steep stages is right for everyone.
See-saw effects of sleep loss
Feeling better after less sleep – including after getting less Deep or REM sleep – could be the result of your body trying to compensate for sleep deprivation. When you’re short on sleep, your body releases stress hormones the next day and evening. These hormones supply the sensation of alertness. However, this natural boost comes at a high metabolic cost, and eventually the need for sleep reasserts itself. Often, the crash comes hard and fast. If you are switching your sleep patterns frequently – or if you notice that your threshold for a good night’s sleep is rather low – you may find that the day after having little sleep you feel energetic and alert. It’s only after “sleeping in” the next day that you may feel grumpy and fatigued.
Recovery sleep takes time
Waking up from the first night of sleep after a night without sleep – or after a night of broken sleep – is often followed by grogginess the next morning, not alertness. This effect occurs because the circadian rhythm is still out-of-whack and also because the total sleep debt may not have been repaid. This usually normalises the next day once you re-establish a regular sleep cycle, though this could take longer if your sleep habits have not been regular for quite some time.
Best rest is consistent
To determine how much sleep you really need, try getting a consistent amount of sleep every night throughout the week. It can be impossible to determine your unique sleep requirement if your biological clock is always recovering from sleep restriction and followed by erratic make-up sleep.