Extra sleep on weekend doesn’t make up for sleep lost during the week

by Gary Trock, M.D., Beaumont sleep expert

A recent study, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that sleeping in on the weekends doesn’t fix all the deficits caused by sleep lost during the work week. In other words, there is no such thing as making up for lost sleep.

Lost sleepAccording to the study, “Two nights of extended recovery sleep may not be sufficient to overcome behavioral alertness deficits resulting from mild sleep restriction. This may have important implications for people with safety-critical professions, such as health-care workers, as well as transportation system employees (drivers, pilots, etc.).”

How sleep deprivation affects the body

  • Sleep deprivation can result in hormonal, brain, neuromuscular and cardiovascular function.
  • Sleep deprivation may contribute to obesity, insulin resistance or diabetes, and hyperlipidemia by affecting Leptin, Ghrelin and glucose metabolism.
  • Sleep deprivation may affect learning and memory. It may cause or contribute to anxiety or depression and may hasten cognitive decline in the elderly.
  • Sleep deprivation may cause or contribute to hypertension, cardiovascular disease and peripheral vascular disease.
  • Sleep deprivation may affect neuromuscular development and athletic performance.

Sleeping habits to help you get the most out of your zzzs

If an individual is sleep deprived 5 days per week, sleeping longer on weekends will not reverse these potential detrimental effects. So, what sleeping habits can help you get the most out of your zzzs?

  • Have a consistent sleep routine. An adult should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Toddlers and preteens require 10 – 12 hours. Teenagers 8 – 10 hours.
  • The bedtime and arousal time should not vary by more than one hour on weekends, compared to week days.
  • The sleep room should be used for sleep and sex. Computer work, texting, TV, homework or occupational work should not be done in the room.
  • Drunk sleep isn’t good sleep. Alcohol may hasten sleep onset, but fragments sleep, and results in poor sleep quality. Alcohol should not be consumed less than two hours before bed.
  • Chronic alcoholism, even if recovering, may permanently disrupt sleep.
  • Caffeine should be avoided after 3 p.m. if sleep onset insomnia is an issue.
  • If one cannot fall asleep on a given night, he/she should go to another room after 30 minutes, perform a non-stimulating activity, then return to the sleep room.
  • Lying in bed awake for hours and clock watching are counterproductive to good sleep.
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