- Sleep experts say you can make up for lost sleep, but it’s best to do it sooner or later.
- Researchers have suggested that it takes four days of quality sleep to recover from just one hour of sleep deprivation.
- Sometimes it’s better to take a nap or get more sleep during the week rather than waiting to sleep on the weekend.
A third of Americans run into debt every night that they may not be able to pay. It’s sleep debt.
That’s where the concept of “catching up with sleep” comes into play. Try to get an extra hour of sleep the day after a sleep deprivation.
But do these extra hours of sleep actually protect you from the health risks of sleep deprivation?
Research results on this subject are mixed, but after reviewing the studies and chatting with some experts, I can tell you that catching up on sleep seems possible, but difficult to achieve.
Why it’s hard to keep up with sleep
Psychiatrist and sleep medicine expert Dr. Alex Dimitriu believes you can get your sleep back, but you have to make sure your sleep debt doesn’t grow too big. By definition, one hour of his sleep lost is equal to one hour of his sleep debt.
“It’s important not to let sleep debt go unnoticed, because a high sleep debt can significantly lengthen your recovery time and make full recovery impossible,” says Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep. Medicine founder Dimitriu told Insider. .
Controlling sleep deprivation is important. Because “not getting enough sleep for a long period of time can lead to medical problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, increased cancer risk, and a compromised immune system,” says former president James A. Dr. Lowry said. of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Foundation.
Perhaps the most interesting results regarding sleep debt and recovery time came from a small study, 1 hours of sleep debt a person needs four A consistent night of 7-9 hours of quality Zzz to fully recover.
So if you need 7 hours of sleep per night but only get 6 hours during the week, you’ll accumulate a sleep debt of 5 hours on Friday. According to the study’s predictions, this means that you need about 20 days of consistent, high-quality sleep to fully recover.
So a few hours of sleep over the weekend probably won’t solve the problem.
“You can make up for an hour or two on the weekend, but that extra hour of sleep alone won’t make up for a week’s worth of sleep deprivation,” says Rowley.
However, in 1963, a 17-year-old boy stayed up for 11 days on a science project. He dealt with temporary nausea and memory loss, but he said he felt normal again after sleeping for 14 hours.
It’s not an experiment Dimitriu wants his patients or anyone else to repeat, but there’s room for research into how long hours of sleep affect health risks in people who are already chronically sleep deprived. It is worth noting that there is
And if you can only sleep on weekends, “You should get more sleep.” [sleep hours] On weekends than not at all,” a professor of biopsychology at Stockholm University told Insider’s Lyndsay Dodgson.
So what can you do if a third of Americans sleep less than six hours a night?
How to pay off your sleep debt
Paying off your sleep debt is like paying off your credit card debt. Try to pay off all or as much of your total balance as possible to avoid becoming too indebted.
In other words, try to make up for a week’s worth of sleep without waiting until the weekend. Instead, if you miss an hour or two of sleep, take a quick nap the next day (20-30 minutes is best) or get a good night’s sleep the next night.
But most importantly, set a sleep schedule and stick to it. “Sleep loves regularity and rhythm,” Dimitriou said.
Circadian rhythms, also called body clocks, influence many important bodily functions, such as temperature regulation, hormone control, memory, concentration, and, of course, sleep.
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule—going to bed and waking up at the same time each day—is one of the key ways to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and, in turn, be healthier. So sleeping may not be the best option, and a short nap may be better.
Of course, 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 less flexibility to deal with it. Do your best to get as much sleep as possible.
“In those situations, even finding an extra 15 minutes per night can make a big difference,” says Rowley.
Thinking outside the box may also be worthwhile. For example, a recent study found that switching from a 5-day work week to a 4-day work week reduced the percentage of people who slept less than 7 hours per night from 42.6% to 14.5%. rice field.
But remember, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.
“Sleep should be thought of in the same way you think of diet and exercise, it’s one of the pillars of overall health and should be prioritized just like them,” Lowry said.