Sleep experts say you can ‘cultivate’ sleep, but sleeping on weekends isn’t the way to do it

A woman sleeping in bed.

I bet the only time you can get extra sleep is on the weekends, but experts don’t recommend waiting that long.Yasser Chalid / Getty Images

  • Sleep experts say you can make up for lost sleep, but it’s best to do so soon.

  • Researchers suggested that it takes 4 days of quality sleep to get rid of just 1 hour of sleep debt.

  • It may be better to take a nap or sleep more during the week than to wait to sleep on the weekends.

A third of Americans ruin a debt they’ll never be able to repay every night: sleep debt.

This is where the concept of “sleep recovery” comes into play: You try to get extra sleep in the days after a bad sleep attack. For example, sleeping on the weekends.

But do these extra hours of sleep really protect you from the health risks of sleep deprivation?

The results of the studies on the subject are mixed, but after examining the research and chatting with some experts, we can say that it seems possible to catch sleep, but it is difficult to achieve.

Why is it hard to fall asleep

Psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist Dr. Alex Dimitriu has the mindset that you can only sleep if you don’t let your sleep debt build up too much. By definition, one hour of sleep lost equals one hour of sleep debt.

Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, told Insider, “If there is more sleep debt, recovery time will be noticeably longer and full recovery may not be possible, so it’s important not to let sleep debt go too far.” .

Former president Dr. It’s important to keep your sleep debt under control, as “not getting enough sleep in the long run can lead to medical problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, increased cancer risk and immune dysfunction,” says James A. Rowley. From the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Foundation.

Perhaps the most intriguing results of sleep debt and recovery time came from a small study recommended for each. a hour of sleep debt, the person will need four consistent nights of seven to nine hours of quality Zzz’s to fully recover.

So if you need seven hours of sleep a night, but only sleep six hours during the work week, you’ll have five hours of sleep debt on Friday. According to the study’s estimates, that means you’ll need about 20 days of consistent, quality sleep to fully recover.

So, getting a few hours of sleep over the weekend probably isn’t going to fix it.

“While an hour or two on the weekends can be compensated, you can’t make up for poor sleep all week by just getting those extra hours of sleep,” Rowley said.

However, in 1963, a boy who was 17 at the time stayed awake for 11 days for a science project. He struggled with temporary nausea and memory loss, but said it returned to normal after 14 hours of sleep.

While this isn’t an experiment Dimitriu would want his patients or anyone else to repeat, it’s worth noting that there’s more room for research into how prolonged sleep impacts the health risks of people who are already chronically sleep deprived.

And if the weekend is the only time you can find to sleep, “better to increase” [sleep hours] “Instead of doing nothing on the weekend,” a professor of biological psychology at Stockholm University told Insider’s Lyndsay Dodgson.

So what can you do if you’re like the one-third of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night?

how to pay sleep debt

Paying back sleep debt is like paying back credit card debt: Try to pay off all or part of the total balance so the debt doesn’t get too big.

That means not waiting for the weekend to make up for an entire week of lost sleep. Instead, if you miss an hour or two of sleep, try to make up for it by taking a nap right away the next day — 20 to 30 minutes is best — or get a good night’s sleep the next evening.

But the most important thing is that you set a sleep schedule and stick to it. “Sleep likes regularity and rhythm,” Dimitriu said, because it maintains a consistent circadian rhythm.

Often referred to as your internal clock, the circadian rhythm influences a number of important bodily functions, including temperature regulation, hormone control, memory, focus, and of course, sleep.

A consistent sleep schedule – that is, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day – is one of the key ways to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and therefore a healthier you. For this reason, sleeping may not be the best option and short naps may be better.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done, and not everyone can change their schedule to get more sleep.

For example, if you work the night shift, have multiple jobs, or need to get the kids out early in the morning, you’re more likely to have sleep debt but have less flexibility to handle it. Do your best to get as much sleep as possible.

“In these circumstances, even finding an extra 15 minutes each night can make a huge difference,” Rowley said.

It may also be worth thinking outside the box. For example, a recent study found that as people switch from 5 days to 4 days a week, the percentage of people who sleep less than seven hours a night drops from 42.6% to 14.5%.

However, you decide to sleep more, just remember that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.

“Sleep should be seen as one of the pillars of overall health, diet and exercise, and should be prioritized just like them,” Rowley said. Said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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