Can you catch up on sleep?

Been burning the midnight oil at work? Big night out on Friday night? Think you can just catch up on the sleep you’ve missed during the week by sleeping in on Sunday morning? Think again…

Getting less sleep than you need each night is called ‘sleep debt’. Not getting your 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night will decrease your ability to focus and pay attention. Foggy brain and forgetfulness sound familiar? Long-term effects of poor sleep can lead to inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, depressions and other chronic illnesses, as well as obesity.

If you have a lie in on the weekend to catch up on lost sleep, you may feel less tired on Monday morning but you could also interrupt your Circadian rhythm (your internal body clock) and find it more difficult to sleep on Sunday night.

A short nap in the day of 20-30 minutes might help to improve your mood, alertness and performance but probably won’t recover your sleep debt.

So the only way to really catch up on sleep is to get back to a regular sleeping pattern of 7 to 9 hours a night. To help find your sleeping mojo again, get up at the same time every day and go to bed a bit earlier. After a few days or weeks, you should be back to normal.

See our guide on How to get a better night's sleep.

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