For many of us, the weekends are a time to catch up on some lost sleep from the week. This may not be as good of an idea as you think it is.
Research suggests that every hour of sleep lost requires four days of adequate rest to make up for it. Generally, the majority of people don’t get adequate sleep throughout the week, so to think you can catch up on five days of lack of sleep on only a two-day weekend, it’s near impossible. Instead, you are just accumulating greater sleep debt.
One of the most significant consequences of poor sleep is fatigue, but that’s not the only thing that can happen. Erratic sleep habits disrupt your body’s natural internal clock, which is essential for regulating hormones to promote sleep and daytime alertness. Studies on shift workers have shown erratic sleep patterns are associated with a higher risk of many different chronic illnesses.
Sleep plays an integral part in several areas of health from the brain and the circulatory system to the digestive system. When we don’t sleep well or get too many nights of disrupted sleep, our other bodily systems can begin to suffer as a consequence.
So rather than try to “catch-up” on sleep on the weekend, try to maintain a regular sleep schedule throughout the week. Ideally, seven to eight hours is recommended for optimal health. If you fall below this or can’t keep to a regular schedule, look into life and identify areas you can improve such as reducing stress, getting more exercise, or cutting back on caffeine. If lifestyle changes don’t improve your sleep, then speak to your doctor about other options available to improve your sleep.