You Can’t Make Up Your Lost Sleep On the Weekend

Planning on burning the midnight oil through to Friday, and catch up with some Z’s on Sunday morning? Bad plan. Aside from the fact that you’ll miss out on Sunday brunch, a great place to meet women and an excuse to drink before noon, your plan won’t work.

According to a study published the American Journal of Physiology, a sleep deficit built up all week can’t be paid off over the weekend. Poor sleep is known to cause numerous problems, amongst them anxiety and eating problems, and researchers wanted to know if “catching up” on sleep could alleviate some of these problems.

Researchers had thirty volunteers put on a reduced sleep schedule for a week, and then increase their sleep during the weekend. Throughout, they had the volunteers take a number of tests measuring their health and performance. During their sleep deficit, volunteers had high levels of inflammation, difficulty paying attention, and (unsurprisingly) more sleepiness. Their levels of stress remained unchanged. After they attempted to catch up over the weekend, levels of sleepiness and inflammation went down, along with stress, but the volunteers still had difficulty paying attention.

So, how much time is needed to make up lack of sleep? Researchers aren’t sure yet. We suggest you err on the side of caution—don’t let sleep be an afterthought.

Photo courtesy of Roberto Rizzato.

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