Sleep is our reward at the end of the day that allows our body to regroup, repair and restore. But what happens if we don’t get enough sleep?
In the short term the effects of not getting adequate sleep can include:
- Lack of alertness
- Impaired memory
Chronic lack of sleep can have a severe impact on your health leading to serious health issues such as:
- high blood pressure
- heart issues
And research has shown that long-term sleep disruptions may raise the risk of some cancers including prostate cancers and breast cancers.
So now that we know, in broad sweeps, the importance of getting adequate sleep, how much sleep is enough sleep?
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), along with a multi-disciplinary expert panel recommends that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep nightly.
So let’s do the math. If we take the average of required sleep time to be 8 hours per night then multiply that number by 7 days a week, that works out to 56 hours of sleep a week to hit the desired target. And when we get less than our needed amount of nightly sleep, this results in what scientists call a ‘sleep debt’.
So here is the question, if we fall short of the average 7-9 hours of sleep during the week, can we repay this sleep debt by sleeping in on the weekend? Many of us assume yes but research suggests otherwise.
In this study researchers enlisted 36 healthy adults age 18 to 39 to stay for two weeks in a laboratory. Their food intake, light exposure and sleep were monitored.
Volunteers were divided into groups. One group was allowed to sleep 9 hours each night for 9 nights. The second was allowed 5 hours per night over that same 9 day period. The third group slept no more than 5 hours nightly for 5 days followed by a weekend when they could sleep as much as they liked before returning to 2 days of restricted sleep.
Both of the sleep-restricted groups snacked more at night, gained weight and saw declines in insulin sensitivity during the study period. While those in the weekend recovery group saw mild improvements (including reduced nighttime snacking) during the weekend, those benefits went away when the sleep-restricted workweek resumed. According to Christopher Depner, lead author of the study
In the end, we didn’t see any benefit in any metabolic outcome in the people who got to sleep in on the weekend
Getting a good sleep on a nightly basis is something many of us need to work on.
Here are some tips to help the Sandman come your way.
Tips for better sleep:
- Turn all electronics off 1 hour before bedtime
- Do not eat 3 hours before bedtime
- Sleep in a cool, dark room
- If you must have electronics in your room, keep them 2 feet away from your bed
- Be consistent with your bed time aiming to go to bed around 10pm
Sleep well friends!
Here is a very interesting and informative interview that I did with Dr. Garcia-Rill entitled “Why Do We Sleep?”
Have a listen:)