Can you really catch up on lost sleep?
Some researchers firmly say no. Top sleep scientist Matthew Walker says the practice of sleeping more after a night of sleeping less does not work. “Sleep is not like the bank, so you can’t accumulate a debt and then try and pay it off at a later point in time … The brain has no capacity to get back that lost sleep,” according to Walker.
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Walker says that if you are sleepless one night, your quality of sleep will be worse the next night, regardless of how much sleep you get.
But a researcher behind a new study published in Sleep argues that sleeping in on the weekend does have a positive effect if you’ve been sleeping.
Researcher: Weekend snoozes can help us ‘compensate’ for lost sleep during the week
A study on the sleeping habits of a group of 14,267 twins, found that the average amount of sleep you get could affect when you die. More sleep did not necessarily lead to better health outcomes. People who slept more than eight hours a night or less than five hours a night had much higher mortality rates than people outside of that range. The study suggests that sleep duration could be a deciding factor in your health.
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The study’s lead author Torbjörn Åkersted said that you could put the findings of his study into practice. “It seems like you actually can compensate by catching up on sleep during weekends,” Åkerstedt told Business Insider. “This is in effect an argument for lazing around all weekend. There probably is an upper limit, but it’s anyway better to increase [sleep hours] on the weekend rather than not doing it at all.”
Prioritizing eight hours of sleep each night is still a good habit for you to practice. But if you follow this researcher’s advice, you no longer have to feel so guilty for hitting snooze on your Sunday mornings to help you prepare for the long week ahead.