How sleeping in for a weekend doesn’t help feeling exhausted during the week?n
After struggling to get enough sleep Monday through Friday, a weekend lie-in may seem like the best way to catch up on some much-needed rest.
But a few hours of extra bed on Saturdays and Sundays is unlikely to offset the sleep debt built up during the week, says sleep and circadian rhythm expert Professor Russell Foster.
A slew of studies show that even sleeping 10 hours a night on weekends doesn’t restore your cognitive skills.
And in fact, it can disrupt the body’s internal clock, making it even harder to fall asleep at night.
Here, the Oxford University professor tells MailOnline why sleeping in late isn’t always the best way to catch up on rest.
Those who regularly feel tired, irritable, impulsive and have a need for sugary or caffeinated drinks are likely to need more time in bed, according to sleep scientist Professor Foster.
Sleeping in on the weekend can have a knock-on effect on your biological clock, because if you sleep in until noon, you won’t see the morning light. Morning light makes you get up earlier and go to bed earlier, and dark light makes you get up later and go to bed later, explains Professor Foster
A person isn’t getting enough sleep if they struggle to perform “at their best” during the day, says Professor Foster.
On average, people need eight hours of sleep per night. But six to 10 and a half hours is a “healthy range,” he says.
Those who fall within this window and are not exhausted during the day need not worry, according to Professor Foster.
But those who regularly feel tired, irritable, impulsive and crave sugary or caffeinated drinks probably need more time in bed, he says.
But making up for lost hours of shut-eye during the weekend by sleeping in isn’t the best way to achieve this, he says.
Spending a few hours in bed on Saturday and Sunday is unlikely to offset sleep debt built up during the week, says sleep and circadian rhythm expert Professor Russell Foster
He suggests that those who are sleep deprived go to sleep earlier in the evening and stick to your normal routine
Professor Foster said, ‘If you run out of breath and you sleep four or five hours, you won’t get enough sleep if you lie in.
“Laboratory research has shown that if you slack off on the weekend, even if it’s only ten hours, you still haven’t caught up on Monday.”
But sleeping in occasionally won’t do much harm to those who are only mildly sleep deprived — if you get about 30 minutes less sleep each night — he noted.
However, sleeping in on the weekend can have a knock-on effect on your body clock if it prevents you from getting out in the morning, says Professor Foster.
Exposure to morning light helps the body get into the pattern of waking up earlier and falling asleep earlier, explains Professor Foster.
Professor Foster suggests that those who are sleep deprived go to sleep earlier in the evening and stick to your normal routine.
He added, “You can oversleep on weekends, but make sure you go to bed earlier and don’t stay in bed later.”
Tips to fall asleep and sleep better
Insomnia means that you regularly have trouble sleeping. It can get better by changing your sleeping habits
One in three adults in Britain and nearly half of American adults suffer from insomnia, with millions more reporting sleepless nights.
Long-term sleep deprivation can cause obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Insomnia can be caused by stress, anxiety, alcohol, caffeine or nicotine, noise, shift work and jet lag.
If you regularly have trouble sleeping, there are simple ways to improve your sleep hygiene.
Keep regular sleeping hours
- Try to go to bed when you feel tired and get up at the same time every day.
Create a restful space
- Dark, quiet, and cool environments generally make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Exercise is good for your physical health and your mind. It can also help you sleep better. Just don’t do vigorous exercise too close to your bedtime.
Don’t force it
- If you find you can’t get to sleep, get up and do something relaxing. Then go back to bed when you feel more sleepy.
Write down your concerns
- If you find that your worries are keeping you up at night, write them down before you go to bed.
Relax the caffeine
- Alcohol and caffeine can prevent you from falling asleep and sleeping deeply. Cutting back on caffeine just before bed and alcoholic drinks can help you dose off.