Oftentimes in social situations, whenever people discover that I’m a sleep doctor, every other person will tell me about their spouses’ snoring problems or insomnia issues, but invariably, someone will tell me, “I’m a great sleeper!” However, when pressed further, I’ll get these comments from these great sleepers:
1. I sleep like a log.
2. I can sleep for 10 to 12 hours.
3. I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime.
Any time I hear any of these comments, I’ll take it at face value. But whenever I see someone with a very narrow face with dental crowding, I’m thinking that their sleep quality is not what it should be. When asked further, almost everyone prefer to sleep on their side or tummy. They’ll also have various health issues, like anxiety, headaches, TMJ, chronic pain issues, fatigue, or digestive problems. Almost invariably, one or both parents will snore heavily.
Normal sleep should work on a rhythm. You should be able to fall asleep within 10 to 20 minutes when you want to, and you should be able to wake up after 7-8 hours feeling refreshed. People who have problems breathing at night tend to sleep very well subjectively, but objectively, it’s very fragmented. Falling asleep too easily during the day is also not a good thing.
When people say that they sleep like a log for 12 hours, that’s a red flag. It’s also not normal to fall asleep anytime, anywhere during the day. Studies have shown higher rates of depression, angina, diabetes, and cancer for excessively long sleepers. There’s even a study showing a higher rate of dying if you sleep longer than 8 hours (or less than 4) compared with people who sleep 6 to 7 hours per night.
Most people with these issues compensate in various ways. Many will exercise intensely, getting quite good at their sport. Others will fill up with coffee or take stimulating supplements.
Do you have no problem falling asleep anywhere, anytime? Can you sleep for 10 to 12 hours, and still not feel refreshed? If so, what do you to to stay alert or active during the day?