Learn why catching up sleep DOESN’T work…
Let me give you something to think about here. Do you really get enough sleep on a daily basis? If you’re someone who actually cares about their health, I’d hope you do. But in reality, lots of adults don’t sleep enough during the week. This then leaves them catching up sleep later on, usually weekends. So, if you’re someone who likes doing this, then this post is for you. You’ll also find this information useful if you have poor general sleeping habits. To begin with, we’ll first look at the common misconception underlying this. Then after, we’ll look at the reasons for you to quit this lifestyle habit. Lastly, we’ll also touch on some practical tips to help overcome this.
Can you really catch up on sleep?
Look, I’m a busy person and I assume you are too, right? When you’ve got plenty to do, you need to prioritise things. After all, you can’t do everything every single day. Therefore, people make time for all the important things in their lives. But for some reason, a good night’s sleep doesn’t seem important. This is exactly why many people are left catching up sleep later on. On the surface, this sounds sensible. If you’ve barely slept or just had a hectic week, then you can make up for it later. But this is a big misconception a lot of people still have.
To make matters worse, many “health” experts even encourage it! If you’ve fallen victim to this wrong advice, don’t worry. I’m going to reveal the TRUTH here in this article. To make this clear, let’s use a common analogy. If you’ve built up a huge bank debt, that’s not a good position to be. Therefore, you would pay back the money later on to clear the debt. People try and do the exact same thing with sleep. They simply view it as something they can make up for later. But this is totally wrong, and you’ll soon learn why. Catching up sleep cannot give your body back what it lost on those late nights. You need to be aware of this first and foremost.
Effects of recovery sleep
A study published in Current Biology analysed the true effectiveness of recovery sleep. They wanted to see if binge-sleeping over the weekend could really compensate for sleep loss during the week. A group of about 40 healthy, young adults were put to the test. These participants were then divided into three sets: A, B & C. Those in set A only slept for 5hrs/night, both weekdays and weekends. Those in set B also slept for 5 hrs/night during the week. However, they slept as much as they wanted over the weekend. Afterwards, they went back to 5 hrs/night sleep for another two days. Participants in set C slept 9 hrs/night straight; both weekdays and weekends.
In this investigation, only those in sets A & B were on weekday sleep restrictions. Interestingly, all of them started snacking at night and began putting on weight. However, those in set B ate a tiny bit less. Therefore, they put on slightly less weight than their set A counterparts. This was the only small benefit they got. But when they returned to their 5 hrs/night sleeping pattern, the snacking and weight gain simply continued. Now, you might assume this evidence alone was enough. But there were also notable changes in their insulin sensitivity.
The set A group were on restricted sleep every single day. In addition to weight gain, they also experienced more than a 10% decrease in insulin sensitivity. Low sensitivity to insulin (“insulin resistance”) certainly isn’t a good sign. In fact, it’s one of the main symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Now, remember that those in set B had extra sleep over the weekends. Therefore, you’d expect them to perform even better. But they really didn’t; in fact, their insulin sensitivity readings were even worse! This was most profound in their muscle and liver tissues.
How to sleep consistently
All of these just confirm that catching up sleep isn’t the answer. You can’t make up for lost sleep by lying-in over the weekends. Sleeping consistently every day is key. Luckily, there are certain things you can start doing now to bring this into effect. The first is to set your alarm to wake you up at the same time every morning. Yes, that applies even for the weekends or your “off-days.” Pick a time that suits you and your lifestyle. So, if you work overnight, getting up at 6am obviously isn’t a good idea. Now you must get up at that set time regardless of when you went to sleep the previous night. Over time, your internal body clock will become finely attuned and consistent.
The second point is crucial for all you “late nighters.” Look, late nights aren’t doing you any good. They just leave you exhausted and worn out the following day. From now on, you must set a time when all work has to STOP. This is important because if you don’t do this, guess what? You’ll just keep ploughing on until the early hours of the next day. You need to set yourself a boundary and commit to it. Beyond this certain time in the evening, you must start winding down. Anything you haven’t done is left for tomorrow. When you start doing this, you’ll be going to bed at roughly the same time every day. Combine this with the first trick and your body will thank you. Over time, your sleep pattern will be steady and consistent day-in, day-out. The only exception is if you have some limiting health condition.
Warning about your gadgets
The third and final tip is regarding the use of electronic devices. Look, if watching YouTube channels is your favourite hobby, that doesn’t matter. But you must avoid doing it prior to bed. In fact, you shouldn’t use any electronic gadgets (laptops, tablets etc) 40 mins before you sleep. This is because their screens emit “artificial” blue light. First of all, this light isn’t natural, hence why it’s artificial. Now the amount of light and dark exposure your body gets is important. It actively determines the rhythms of your internal body clock. Artificial light from electronic devices confuses your brain and disrupts these natural rhythms. Yes, your brain thinks it’s day-time when you’re watching TV at 11pm!!
To make matters worse, the blue light actually hinders the production of melatonin. That’s basically the hormone responsible for sleep. If you’re not producing enough melatonin, it’s going to affect your sleep. Research has even backed this up. Blue light is the most effective at suppressing melatonin production. It has a more adverse effect than any other wavelength of light. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to avoid using gadgets late at night. Also, make sure the room is dark and cool as well. These are the best conditions under which to sleep.
You can now see how important it is to sleep consistently. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. Adequate sleep is an absolute necessity to perform at your best. It’s also about forming good lifestyle habits too. If you want more help with breaking bad habits, read this article here. For optimum benefit, aim for 7-9 hrs/night every single day. That’s far better than catching up sleep over the weekend. The previous tips you’ve learned should also help you stay on track. Just be bold and stay on top of your day!