People with Sleep Debt Cannot Erase It by Sleeping on the Weekend

Tired businesswoman in the officeMany people tend to burn the candle at both ends during the week and try to catch up on sleep during the weekends. However, according to a new study from the Hotel Dieu Center of Sleep and Vigilance at the Public Assistance Hospital of Paris, they will still find themselves feeling sleepy come Monday morning.

For the study, researchers looked at adults who regularly only get six hours sleep or less on weekdays. These people called “short sleepers” made up over one-third of more than 12,000 participants in the study. Out of these “short sleepers,” nearly one-quarter said they had been racking up a very serious weekday “sleep debt.” This accounted for at least 90 minutes less than the amount of sleep needed to have a restful night’s sleep.


“Our survey shows that about 75% of people with sleep debt did not find their way to get more sleep on the weekend or by napping,” said study author Dr. Damien Leger.

The reason is not complicated. In the end, “they probably did not take the time to do it. Or had poor conditions to sleep, [such as a] noisy environment, stress, or children at home. So, their sleep debt is not recovered,” he explained.

The participants of the study were surveyed about their sleep routines over the phone as part of a recurring national health poll. It was found that the average amount of daily weekday sleep was 6 hours and 42 minutes. On weekends participants reported 7 hours and 26 minutes. It was also reported that more than one-quarter of respondents said they took naps at least once during the week and about one-third reported napping on weekends.

It’s a serious problem, said Leger. And one that likely affects millions.

“About one-third of adults have a daily lack of sleep,” he noted. “And it is very common in Western countries,” especially in urban areas.

The study concluded that even with getting extra sleep during weekend and taking naps, only 18% of severely sleep-deprived men and women were able to bank enough sleep to make up for chronic weekday deficiencies. Men were the most affected with only 15% managing to balance their sleep with a weekend catch-up.

The Cause of Health Issues

The main concern over lack of sleep are the health issues that can translate over time. This can include obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, and accidental injury. This worry is voiced from Adam Krause, a Ph.D. candidate in cognitive neuroscience with the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley.


“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates around 35% of Americans sleep less than seven hours per night. And the amount of sleep has steadily decreased over the past decades, though it may be leveling off currently,” Krause said.

“Sleep loss is a potent form of whole-body stress,” Krause added. “So, it impacts function at every level of the body, from DNA, to cells, to organs, to performance at work or exercise.”

For those suffering from insomnia, many experts agree that consistency is key. “In general, consistency is key,” he added. “I think of this like a healthy diet. It’s better to eat healthy for two days a week than not at all, but eating healthy two days a week does not reverse the damage caused by eating poorly for the remaining five days. The best sleep diet is one that is sufficient and consistent.”

Author Bio

About eight years ago, Mat Lecompte had an epiphany. He’d been ignoring his health and suddenly realized he needed to do something about it. Since then, through hard work, determination and plenty of education, he has transformed his life. He’s changed his body composition by learning the ins and outs of nutrition, exercise, and fitness and wants to share his knowledge with you. Starting as a journalist over 10 years ago, Mat has not only honed his belief system and approach with practical experience, but he has also worked closely with nutritionists, dieticians, athletes, and fitness professionals. He embraces natural healing methods and believes that diet, exercise and willpower are the foundation of a healthy, happy, and drug-free existence.