It’s so easy to think, “I have extra work to do, so I’ll stay up late tonight and catch up on sleep tomorrow. But the idea that you can catch up on sleep after being sleep deprived can be dangerous. A lack of sleep can be hard to correct, and can affect how well you think, make decisions, and react to the world around you.
Catching Up on Sleep
According to Psychology Today, sleep studies show that even if you use your weekend to catch up after a week of too little sleep each night, you’ll still carry sleep debt when you start the following week. “Sleep debt,” according to Scientific American, is the cumulative effect of lack of sleep on your motor skills, coordination, reaction time, and mental processes. Even if you feel wide awake on Monday morning, you’ll be more tired at the end of the day and have slower response times and decision-making skills than you would if you were working after a week of good sleep each night.
How to Catch Up on Sleep
Sometimes people just need to push a little harder to get things done. When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, it’s important to take the time to catch up. There’s nothing you can do to recoup the sleep you’ve lost, but you can correct the damage and even “bank” sleep for the next time you have to stay up late or get up early.
Start by getting to bed soon after the sun goes down, no later than 9:00 or 10:00 at night. Set your alarm for the same time every morning of the week. Most experts recommend 8:00 or 9:00 hours of sleep at night, but no more than 10—so don’t oversleep to try to “catch up” after being sleep deprived.
Keep a good sleep schedule for at least two to three weeks, and you’ll be back on track and feeling at your best. Don’t short-circuit your recovery by giving in to the temptation to stay up late once you start feeling better, or to sleep in each morning. Stick to your schedule, and you’ll “re-sync” yourself with the natural circadian rhythms that help you to be at your best.