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January 29, 2017
THERE ARE TWO different types of people in the world: those who can sleep during the day, and those who couldn’t catch a nap if they tried.
If you’ve ever been desperate for a good night’s sleep only to find that circumstances kept you up longer than expected, staying in bed all day is a skill you probably wish you had to help catch up on that sleep deficit.
So why is it that some people have no trouble sleeping during the day while others struggle to keep their eyes shut when the sun is out? And is lying in bed all day even good for you? Let’s take a look at what the research has to say about daytime sleeping.
Humans have two systems to regulate their sleep patterns: sleep/wake homeostasis and the circadian biological clock.
Sleep/wake homeostasis is your body’s way of shutting itself down to get needed rest. This is what makes you feel sleepy – and stay asleep – after a long day to make sure your body can recover properly.
Your body is also controlled by its circadian rhythms, and these have to do less with fatigue and more with the daily patterns of sunlight you experience. This is why you’ll feel more alert during the day and less so at night; these dips in energy feel more intense if you’re already sleep deprived. Each person’s biological clock is different, which is part of the reason why some people have no trouble sleeping in while others are up with the sun.
In general, when you find a sleep pattern that works for you, you should stick with it by keeping regular hours – even if that schedule is different from your friends and neighbors.
Not everyone who can sleep all day is happy about it. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) occurs when a person – usually a “night owl” – can’t fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, and then must sleep until noon to get a full night’s sleep.
This may not bother some people and may actually be a boon to shift workers and those who can create their own schedules. If it begins to interfere with daily activities, though, it’s considered a circadian rhythm disorder.
If you want to sleep all day but can’t, treatment for this sleep conundrum typically requires you to “back up” your sleep schedule by a few minutes each day until you’re going to bed and waking up at a more socially acceptable time.
To help you stay on your new schedule, you’ll need to stick to it like glue. Bright light therapy can also help you feel more alert in the mornings.
If you’re a person who wishes you could sleep in during the day, you can try to fake out your circadian rhythms with light-blocking curtains and blinds to keep out the morning sun.
For a sick day, earplugs and a sleep mask may help you stay asleep as you recover. Going to bed earlier may be a better solution for getting extra rest if you can’t sleep well once the sun is up.
In general, it’s best not to disrupt your natural sleep patterns if you can help it. Whether you’re a morning lark or night owl, embrace your sleep style to get the best rest for your body.