Can we ever really catch up on missed sleep? Experts say “yes,” but there’s a catch. Here’s what you need to know, straight from the experts at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
First: If you’ve recently pulled an all-nighter, sleep in on the weekend. Studies show that getting a few extra hours of weekend sleep will chip away at your “sleep debt.” But experts warn it’ll only help you catch up on recent lost sleep, within a day or so. But if you’re always sleep-deprived, sleeping late on the weekend won’t make a single positive difference. In fact, having a different weekend and weekday sleep schedule will make you feel worse.
There’s even a name for it: Social Jet Lag. Because you’ll feel like you’re jet lagged. Essentially, your body is confused, because it prefers a consistent sleep schedule. And that throws your hormones out of whack. So if you’re always changing things up, you’ll feel experience more grogginess and dull headaches.
However, if you know you’ll be up all night soon, because you’re working on a big presentation, rest up a few nights before. Research shows that banking sleep in advance of a long night offsets upcoming sleep deprivation. So, if you know you’re going to be up all Thursday night at a function, then try sleeping an extra hour every night, starting on Monday, to prep your body for the all-nighter.
And if you can, take a power nap every day. Researchers say that a regularly-scheduled nap of 25 minutes max is healthier than banking hours of sleep on the weekend. That’s because our bodies like routine, and when we stick to a nap schedule, our body anticipates the break, and never drifts into a deep dream sleep, which can cause grogginess. Instead, a quick nap makes us feel refreshed and energized.