Can You Really Play Catch-Up on Your ZZZs?
Most people’s days are packed with things like carpooling kids to school, picking them up from soccer practice, working a full-time job, cooking, filling the car up with gas, running errands, catching up with your significant other, showering and performing other must-do tasks. With so much on your plate, it’s no wonder you might push “get enough sleep” to the backburner. Unfortunately, burning the candle at both ends Monday through Friday and catching up on sleep over the weekend isn’t a way to get ahead. Sleep deprivation—the condition where someone isn’t getting enough sleep—shortens your attention span and leads to learning and memory loss, affecting your performance at school or work. While you may be short on time, find out why a lack of sleep has larger impacts than you may think.
Why does getting enough sleep matter? Sleep’s restorative effects are essential to how your body and mind function. While you’re sleeping, your body is repairing itself and your brain is improving the way it functions. That is also when your brain forms new pathways to help you learn and remember information. If you’re lacking sleep, you may also have trouble making important decisions and are at an increased risk for depression.
What happens when you are short on sleep? When you don’t get enough sleep, you create what’s known as a sleep debt, which is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting (seven to eight hours for most adults) and the amount you actually get. If you happen to get one night of poor sleep, don’t fret. You can recover from one sleepless night by going to bed early the following night and taking a short nap the next day if needed. The problem is when your too-short nights become a habit. If you get five hours of sleep every night during the week, that adds up to 10 to 15 hours of sleep shortage by the time the weekend rolls around.
And even if you are able to clock 13 hours a night on the weekend, it may notbe as beneficial as you think. Studies have shown that attention levels don’t return to normal levels after playing catch-up on sleep. Plus, your reaction times and ability to focus are worse when you try to catch-up on weeks of shortened sleep than if you had been getting enough sleep most nights and pulled a single all-nighter.
Getting enough sleep is often easier said than done. If you have trouble sleeping, get some helpful advice by checking out these blogs:
- Difficulty Sleeping Through the Night? Don’t Brush it Off: It Could Be Sleep Apnea
- 4 Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
- Break Free From the Stressed-Out, Not-Sleeping Cycle
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