We all know what happens to you when you don’t get enough sleep. You get grumpy, you get irritable, and all you want to do is crawl into bed, hibernate, and not re-emerge until you feel like yourself again.
But not getting enough sleep isn’t something that just affects your mood, there’s also been plenty of research over the years which proves long-term sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease.
With all these concerns about not getting enough sleep, it’s no surprise that we all value that extra hour in bed on Saturday and Sunday morning. But forget about how good it may feel to stay under the comfy duvet for a little bit longer, are these well-deserved lie-ins actually good for our health?
Let’s take a look.
Should we be taking lie-ins when we feel like we need one?
We all can appreciate the glorious feeling of waking up on Saturday morning and realizing you don’t need to get out of bed just yet, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. A sleep specialist scientist called Amy Bender has explained that if you always have the urge to have an extra hour or two at the weekend, then that is telling you you’re not getting enough sleep during weekday nights.
During the week, many of us who work 9-5 will be awoken by their alarm at the same time every morning. And more often than not, our bodies will wake up naturally at the same time on weekends too, whether we want to or not. This is all part of our body’s sleep clock. The more we get into a routine, the more our bodies will try and stick to it.
So what happens if we break this body clock on the weekends? Well, believe it or not, but some research suggests inconsistent sleep may actually be worse than having less sleep but more consistently. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this then means that forcing yourself to get out of bed on a Sunday morning even when you still feel tired might actually be the best thing for you to do.
What are our other options when we’re tired?
So we’ve given you the bad news, but now we have some good news…
Sleep expert Amy Bender has said that although this research does clearly suggest that lie-ins could be worse for you, this evidence is also largely inconsistent. She suggests that instead of prolonged lie-ins, we should alternatively take naps. Sounds good, right? You don’t need to tell us twice.
The two types of naps that Amy suggests we take are either:
90 minutes – this nap will make sure you go through an entire sleep cycle, including REM. Tip – don’t set an alarm or you can wake up feeling worse.
20 minutes – a short and sweet power nap gives you a well-needed energy boost that can benefit you for up to 3 hours.
The benefits of napping all come from the idea that ‘banking sleep’ is the best way we get enough of it. But what exactly does sleep banking mean? Well, it basically means that you should be making sure you have a surplus of sleep by sleeping in advance when you know you may be extra tired later on in the week. Any added sleep you may take means you’ll have some rest in the bank to make sure you’re equipped to deal with tiredness later on. Make sense?
So there you have it – value your sleep at the weekends, but also consider having an early night or taking a nap rather than having a lie-in. As if you needed another reason to get into bed anyway…