How much sleep do you get during the week? Whilst the average Australian adult sleeps for approximately 7 hours a day, we know there are plenty of people running on a lot less sleep.
If you get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, life must be pretty sweet. 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 a whole range of 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 really unpredictable and there are a lot of things 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?
Napping at work, while acceptable in some cultures, probably won’t sit well with your boss. Sleeping on the train ride home is also risky in case 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 a good way to catch up. It’s simple maths, right?
Can you really recover sleep lost on weekends? Is it that simple?
The short answer is no.
In a perfect world, your sleep pattern shouldn’t be dictated by the stress and worries that you feel during 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 so many people think that they can make up for it by extra sleep on the weekends.
Sleep is not some tangible thing that one can add or subtract to based on a whim. Adequate sleep rests and recovers the body after a particularly grueling 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 on your bed on weekends will never be a good way to recover from 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 that there are numerous negative effects related to unpaid sleep debt.
Insufficient sleep affects not only our immune system but can also lead to other complications like fatigue, anxiety, and weight fluctuations. Severe sleep loss even contributes to increased risk of heart attack and diabetes.
Health care professionals often preach about the importance of a healthy sleep schedule. However, most people assume that lost sleep on weekdays can be replaced with an increased number of 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.
Maintaining adequate sleep is hard nowadays, but that isn’t an excuse for poor sleep hygiene. Sometimes, it pays to put your wellbeing over other things.
To avoid weight gain, heart diseases, and other health complications, pay attention to the amount of sleep you get everyday, 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.
Being a little sleep during daytime is often normal. What makes it problematic is if it affects your performance and in most cases, the basic ability to function. While that can be addressed by more sleep, if you are only prioritising your sleep on weekends then you’ll still struggle.
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.
What makes sleep debt tricky to counter is because of the very nature of sleep itself. In order 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 be only changing your sleep and wake time by maximum one hour to ensure regular, quality sleep.
Some tips to help sleep better 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 foregoing sufficient and regular bedtime. If our bodies are like machines, then sleep is what 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 have a look at making some changes to see if your sleep improves.
Maybe it’s your mattress getting you down? Many mattresses are either too soft or unyielding. The Ecosa Mattress is extremely supportive while the memory foam gives the comfort you need.
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 bed time can help relieve built-up tension on muscles, the heat of the water relaxing you before sleep. Meditating or reading a good book before sleeping is another great way to relax before bedtime.
Always remember, we are the ones primarily in charge of keeping our bodies healthy. If you don’t start taking care of yourself, it’ll lead to serious problems in the future. To prevent that from happening, conscious effort is necessary.