I Wasn’t Feeling Refreshed Even After 7.5 Hours of Sleep. Here’s How I Fixed It
One simple change can have such a dramatic impact.
Getting enough sleep is perhaps one of the most important things we can do for our health and body. Sleep is a chance for the body to repair itself and to reenergize.
Ever since I read the book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker (not an affiliate link), I became more aware of how sleep virtually impacts every cell in our body and how not getting consistent and adequate high-quality sleep can severely impact our body.
I made a promise to myself that I would try to get at least 7 hours of sleep if not more every single night to increase my productivity, effectiveness, and to overall feel more refreshed.
I would go to bed at around 11 PM and a 7-hour sleeping time equates to a 6 AM wakeup time. Even though 7 hours is a good amount of night rest, I wasn’t feeling refreshed and full of energy when I would wake up at 6 AM. This slump in energy and grogginess would last the whole day and I was feeling extremely sleepy at around 4 PM.
I then considered increasing the 7 hours to 7.5 hours which I felt would be enough and it was. For the first week after I increased my sleeping time to 7.5 hours, I felt consistently refreshed and full of energy. I would feel a bit tired at around 4 PM but not by a lot and at night, I was getting good and restful sleep.
After about 2 weeks of sleeping for around 7.5 hours, it was as if a lightbulb in my head just turned off. 7.5 hours of sleep stopped being enough for me and in the mornings, I stopped waking up feeling full of energy.
Instead throughout the night when I was sleeping, I would constantly wake up 7 or 8 times. Not everyone sleeps through the night and instead many people get up at random points at night and then go back to sleep. However in my case, when I would wake up at night, it would take me a solid 10 minutes to go back to sleep again. As soon as I would fall asleep, half an hour later I would wake up again.
This periodic wakening for 7 or 8 times is perhaps what was causing me to feel tired and not enough refreshed even after 7.5 hours of sleep each night.
This had never happened to me before and I was genuinely concerned what was causing this. This cycle continued for another 4 days until I decided that I should again increase my sleeping time to 8 hours. In that case even if I wake up through the night, an extra 30 minutes of sleep could probably help me regain that little bit of lost sleep.
This actually had the opposite effect.
After sleeping for 8 hours the first night, I still wasn’t feeling refreshed because I was still periodically waking up all throughout the night. I gave it a 2nd go the other night and I still got the same result.
That’s when I made the decision to tackle the problem of waking up so many times at night head-on.
This was easier said than done.
I first consciously reviewed my daily activities and my daily plans to see if any of those were having an impact on my sleeping routine.
Here is the list I went through:
- Eating: I get a decent amount of fiber throughout the day. Some of the things that I regularly eat throughout the day are: egg, apple, orange, yogurt, milk, almonds, etc. As you can see, everything is healthy and nothing is really considered junk food. This might not be affecting my sleep.
- Bed quality: I sleep in a comfortable mattress with a comfortable blanket and pillow. Lights are kept to a minimum that don’t affect my eyes. This might not be affecting my sleep.
- Daily activities: My daily activities are working on my assignments, exercising, writing articles, using my laptop and phone, etc.
That is when I found the culprit!
When I was reviewing my daily activities list, I found that I had written: using laptop and phone.
Since a majority of my work and assignments are done online, I use my laptop literally the whole day.
As soon as I am done eating, I use my laptop.
As soon as I am done exercising, I use my laptop.
As soon as I am done talking, I use my laptop.
This is not just me. Due to COVID-19, people’s assignments and work have shifted online and with more time being spent at homes due to lockdown, people have no option but to resort to using their digital devices.
Even though lockdown is being eased in many countries, some countries such as the UK are still under lockdown. People now have a habit of using their digital devices at every moment and this is the same for me.
In my case, I use my laptop to get my assignments and other stuff done.
Now back to the story.
Before going to bed at 11 PM, I saw that I would still use my phone for a good 20 minutes before going to bed. Even before then, I would still be using my laptop to squeeze in that bit of extra time to get other assignments done.
I had recently read that using your digital devices such as phone or laptop before bed can affect sleep quality since the blue light that is emitted by these devices suppresses the secretion of melatonin that is responsible for making us sleepy.
After realizing how much blue light I was being exposed to before bed which was perhaps disrupting my sleep quality, I made a decision to stop using any electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed.
That 30 minutes comes from the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendation that people stop using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
After making this change, the results have been nothing short of MAGICAL!
Last night was the 3rd night going without electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime and each of those nights has been peaceful. For the past 3 days, I have been waking up feeling more refreshed and energized than before. I am still sleeping 7.5 hours at night which is the perfect amount for me.
I can’t always stop using my electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime because life gets in the way so I plan on using a built-in blue light filter on my Macbook and iPhone.
Apple calls it “Night Shift” and when it is turned on, it changes the color of the screen to pale orange. It kind of gets getting used to but essentially this feature decreases the amount of blue light emitted by the screen which in theory should help you sleep better.
I will try this feature in the upcoming few days by turning it on after sunset so my eyes are not that exposed to the blue light.
In our modern society, we are too obsessed with our digital devices and because of this, we are constantly being exposed to blue light. This may be affecting our sleep quality without us knowing.
For the next few days, try this:
- Stop using your digital devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime
- Use a blue light filter that turns the screen to a pale orange to reduce blue light exposure (Night Shift on Apple devices)
Evaluate your sleep quality after making these changes.
If you see no change in your sleep quality, still stick to these changes because over the long run this can help reduce damage to your eyes and help you sleep better.