Tips For Better Sleep

Sleeping In On Weekends Won’t Erase Your Sleep Debt

April 16, 2021   By Jennifer Cook

How much sleep do you get during the week? Whilst the average Australian adult sleeps for approximately 7 hours a day, we know plenty of people are running on a lot less sleep.

Life must be pretty sweet if you get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. The hectic nature of our lives sometimes compels us to be awake and raring to go almost 24/7. 

While overstimulation is a reason for less sleep, the main culprit for most people is stress. Whether we admit it or not, for many of us, our work week can bring on many stressful experiences, from deadlines to a large workload and maybe even conflict in the workplace. 

It doesn’t even have to be work-related. Our lives can be unpredictable, and many things are beyond our control. While it is normal to get stressed out with life, there’s still the risk of it affecting your amount of sleep.

So What Can You Do to Recover Lost Sleep?

While acceptable in some cultures, napping at work probably won’t sit well with your boss. Sleeping on the train ride home is also risky if you miss your stop. 

For people looking to catch up on a good night’s sleep, spending more time conked out on weekends might seem like an excellent way to catch up. It’s simple maths, right?

Can you really recover from sleep loss on weekends? Is it that simple?

The short answer is no. 

In a perfect world, stress and worries shouldn’t dictate your sleep pattern from Mondays to Fridays. But in reality, that’s close to impossible. Often, we are left playing catch-up when it comes to sleep.

With 77% of Australians not getting enough sleep, it’s no wonder many people think they can make up for it with extra sleep on the weekends. Sleep medicine experts say otherwise.

Sleep is not something tangible that one can add or subtract based on a whim. Adequate sleep rests and recovers the body after a particularly gruelling day, so enough sleep every night is required to maintain energy levels. Miss one, and you can’t magically get it back the next day.

Spending more time in your bed on weekends will never be an excellent way to recover from a lack of sleep. Here are some reasons why.

Sleep Deprivation Equals Health Concerns

The amount of sleep we get or don’t get relates to both our physical and mental health. Mainstream research shows numerous adverse effects related to unpaid sleep debt.

Insufficient sleep affects our immune system and can lead to other complications like fatigue, anxiety, and weight fluctuations. Severe sleep loss even contributes to an increased risk of heart attack and diabetes.

Sleep health professionals often preach about the importance of a healthy sleep schedule. However, most people assume that lost sleep on weekdays can be replaced with increased hours slept on weekends. Guys, it doesn’t work like that!

You cannot juggle the amount of sleep you get by adding on one side while the other is considerably lacking. That’s not a shortcut you should take if you want to wake up refreshed and rejuvenated.

Maintaining adequate sleep is hard nowadays, but that isn’t an excuse for poor sleep hygiene. Sometimes, it pays to put your well-being over other things.

To avoid weight gain, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health complications, pay attention to the amount of sleep you get every day, particularly on weekdays. That’s easier said than done, though.

Recovery sleep is essential for adults, particularly if you also strain yourself physically. The only way to achieve that is through a consistent sleep schedule. That’s why banking on sleeping more on weekends to replace those hours is ineffective.

Side Effects of Sleep Debt Are Instantly Felt

For people who consistently fail to get enough sleep during the work week, fatigue, bouts of drowsiness, and lethargy are constant companions. These are only some of the short-term effects of unpaid sleep debt. And oh boy, are there lots of them.

Having little sleep during the daytime is often normal. It becomes problematic if it affects your performance and, in most cases, the basic ability to function. While more sleep can address that, if you are only prioritising your sleep on weekends, then you’ll still struggle.

A reasonably new study by Adam Krause, an American expert on sleep habits and physiology, showed that people suffering from excessive sleepiness or sleep loss perceive pain and react to it differently than those that don’t. Creepy.

These are but some of the common lingering effects of unpaid sleep debts. While they may not be life-threatening, their instantaneous nature is alarming. Remember, the less you sleep, the more you’ll feel these side effects.

Sleep debt is tricky to counter because of the very nature of sleep itself. To maintain physical and mental wellness, quality sleep is necessary. However, that’s rare nowadays, and it’s not hard to see why.

That is not to say that we can give up on having enough sleep, even during weekdays, far from it. We cannot stress enough the importance of having a regular sleep schedule, regardless of how busy you are on weekdays. Even on the weekends, you should only change your sleep and wake time by a maximum of one hour to ensure regular, quality sleep.

Tips to Help You Get Good Sleep During the Week

We understand that you can’t help but sacrifice sleep for other things. Work, social events, and unforeseen circumstances happen. Sometimes, our time is beyond our control.

However, you can’t keep on sacrificing sufficient and regular bedtime. If our bodies are like machines, sleep fuels and recharges us for the next day. It keeps us aligned and full of energy.

If you’re having a hard time sleeping, whether because of stress or other reasons, maybe make some changes to see if your bedtime sessions improve. 

Maybe it’s your mattress getting you down? Many beds are either too soft or unyielding. The Ecosa Mattress is incredibly supportive, while the memory foam gives the comfort you need.

Are you spending more time swiping thru your smartphone? Blue light emitted by gadgets throws our body clocks or circadian rhythm out of sync, making it hard to get the best sleep possible. It might be a good idea to put the phone down after you finish reading this!

Rearranging your room to make it cosier and easier to rest in helps too. Start by tidying up clutter near your bed or switching curtains to keep excess light from filtering in.

Showering before bedtime can help relieve built-up muscle tension, the heat of the water relaxing you before sleep. Meditating or reading a good book before sleeping is another excellent way to relax before bedtime. 

Always remember, we are primarily in charge of keeping our bodies healthy. If you don’t start taking care of yourself, it’ll lead to severe problems in the future. To prevent that from happening, a conscious effort is necessary.

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