What Your Sleeping Style Says About You

Experts say how we sleep and how much we sleep affects mood and health.

From the WebMD Archives


Poor Sleep Also Problematic

This can occur if they are not getting enough sleep or if they are getting poor-quality sleep, she says.

According to Krieger, "When people say 'I probably do sleep, but I don't feel rested and I worry at night and have a lot of stress,' this may suggest alpha [sleep wave] intrusion, which causes nonrestorative sleep disorder. With this condition deep sleep is interrupted by bouts of waking-type brain activity. In particular, people with the chronic pain disorder fibromyalgia tend to have a lot of alpha intrusion during the night.

"But medications that treat alpha intrusion, such as the anticonvulsant gabapentin, may make people sleep better," she says.

What about too much sleep? "Most likely there is no such thing as too much sleep," she tells WebMD. "Patients that are depressed tend to sleep more, but we don't know what comes first. We are supposed to have more rapid eye movement (REM) sleep later in the night, but patients who are depressed have it earlier and for longer periods of time."

REM is the deepest stage of sleep; it is when intense dreaming occurs during sleep. During REM there is an increase in brain activity and many body-function changes occur, including an increase in breathing and heart rates.

"We don't know if the changes in REM are causing depression or if depression is causing the changes in REM," she says.

However, certain antidepressants can suppress REM sleep and help alleviate both the depression and the sleeping abnormalities.

What Time Is Your Internal Alarm Clock Set For?

Whether a person is up all night watching reruns of bad sitcoms and scary movies or sound asleep by 9 p.m. is based, in part, on his own internal alarm clock. And such clockwork may play a role in workplace success.

"A clock mechanism makes us sleepier at certain times and more alert at others, and it can make you want to stay up all night or go to bed quite early," Ballard says.

This can be a problem at times. "For instance, teenage boys who don't go to sleep until 3 or 4 a.m. may sleep through their classes, and if this persists into adulthood, they may have difficulty functioning in an early morning job," he says.

A study of middle school students showed that teens may also suffer from lower self-esteem and more depression when they don't get enough sleep.teens may also suffer from lower self-esteem and more depression when they don't get enough sleep.