Sleep is so important to your health. It keeps your immune system in top shape, helps restorative brain processes, and releases growth hormones that help rebuild muscles and joints so your body is better able to repair itself.
But most American’s feel they don’t get enough sleep. To make up for that shortage, you may try to catch up on weekends. There may be some benefit to this, but be careful. Catching up on sleep a few days after a particular short night’s sleep can be beneficial, but if you’re habitually lacking sleep there is no making up the time. After all, five short nights of sleep can quickly add up to a sleep deficit of 15-plus hours. There is no way to make that up over a weekend.
For times when your sleep is cut short, try the following:
- Don’t habitually bank your sleep on weekends. When your sleep varies considerably from night to night, like getting five hours of sleep during the week and 10 hours on the weekend, you increase your risk of obesity as well as chronic disease such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Instead, try to get better sleep during the week. Add an extra hour or two on the weekends if you feel you need it.
- If you had to cut short your sleep, try to split the difference. For example, if you missed out on two hours the night before, go to bed one hour earlier and wake up an hour later than normal the next day. This will have less of an impact on your sleep cycle.
- Take power naps. They will reverse the negative effects of lack of sleep, such as feeling tired and lethargic. Aim for 15-20 minutes. Any longer can leave you feeling groggy and unrefreshed.
- Seven to nine hours per night is the ideal amount of sleep for adults. Six hours is the minimum and the max recommendation is 10 hours. Set a bedtime and a wake time that meets these recommendations and stick to it as best you can.
It could be that a sleep condition is getting in the way of your good night’s sleep. If you’re concerned about sleep, see your doctor to rule out any conditions that may be interfering with getting a good night’s rest.