A long week at work where you need to get up early every morning can be rather exhausting. It is no wonder that you want to compensate for all that by sleeping in at weekends. While it may seem that these extra few hours of sleep are good for you, this isn’t necessarily the case.
In fact, it is quite possible that you will wake up with a faint headache, eyes impossible to open, your brain still laying down… almost like a hangover. This is such an accurate that some scientists even call it “sleep drunkness”.
Well, science has a reasonable explanation for that, and it includes internal rhythms, circadian pacemaker, and chemical messages between the body and the mind.
We have all heard about the scientific studies that found that not getting enough sleep even for one night can affect the ability to focus, eye-hand coordination, and mood and that prolonged sleep deprivation increases the risk of developing various diseases. So, what else is new?
There are several studies that are worth mentioning:
A research led by Keele University established that people who slept for an average of ten hours a night were 30 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who only slept for the typical seven hours. Some of the findings state that sleep duration of ten hours leads to 56 percent higher chances of suffering a stroke, 44 percent increase in cardiovascular disease, and 49 percent increase risk from dying of such a disease.
Scientists from India conducted a study called “On the adaptive significance of circadian clocks for their owners” which found that your cells start using their energy cycle every day at approximately the same time, and when you oversleep in weekends they will still drain the energy from 7 a.m. which will make you feel fatigued.
Nurses Health Study concluded that people who slept 9 to 11 hours a night have a higher risk of developing memory problems and are more likely to suffer heart disease than people who slept a solid eight.
Other studies have linked lie-ins with obesity, diabetes, and early death.
You must be wondering how all these scientific facts translate to real life? It is actually similar to the feeling when you are traveling to different time zones, and that is why it is sometimes called social jetlag. You will probably feel sluggish, tired, and maybe even have a headache after your 10 hours of sleep, even though you really think you need them.
This happens because changing your sleeping routine by a few hours throws out your circadian rhythms and makes you sleepy during the day. This doesn’t affect your life on a daily basis only. It can leave a permanent impact on your health, as some of the mentioned studies have suggested.
To start solving this problem, you need to realize that good sleep is not exclusively about quantity. It is also about quality.
We often hear about the importance of sleep routine for kids, while maintaining a regular sleeping schedule is just as vital for adults. Adult bodies crave consistency too. They are accustomed to waking up and going to bed at an approximately same time each day. For example, your digestive system is activated in advance of your regular meals. You start to relax and get sleep prior to your usual bedtime, etc.
So, the solution? It is to try to establish a relatively consistent routine. Here are some tips that will help you succeed in that intention:
Make a plan and be consistent in your daily routines.
Avoid caffeine past noon.
Don’t drink alcohol too late in the evening because it can make you dehydrated and cause you troubles with sleeping.
Avoid eating heavy meals in the evening.
Evaluate your way of sleeping to see if you have some sleep problems (e.g., snoring, neck pain, trouble falling asleep, etc.) and turn to science for solving your sleep issues.
Make sure your room is a sleep-inducing environment (dark, free of digital distractions and with the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit).
Your mattress and pillow must be comfortable and appropriate for your way of sleeping. It is not the same if you are sleeping on your back and on the side.
Physical activity could help you fall asleep faster at night.
Some teas (e.g., chamomile, lavender) can help you soothe yourself into sleep easier.
Finally, don’t push yourself too hard. Worrying can only affect the quality of your sleep and produce adverse effects. Try to approach this matter calmly. It is not a life or death issue. While social jet-lags or regular lie-ins can harm your health in the long run, there is no evidence that they can produce such effects when it comes to occasional sleep-ins.
The link between dose and response is still uncertain – so it is unclear how much sleep disturbance you would need in order for your organism to respond by developing an illness. The best thing you can do for yourself is to try to have a fairly consistent sleep routine, go to bed without stress and negative thoughts on your mind, and wake up as rested as possible. Does it sound like a challenge? Maybe, but the reward is more than satisfying.