The benefits of sleeping in on your day off
After a long week juggling work, social commitments and family life, it’s no wonder your weekend plans involve sleeping in.
But is sleeping in good for your health? Some sleep specialists argue that sleeping in throws your sleep-wake cycle out of sync, while others say that you can’t ignore the physical and mental benefits of a weekend lie-in. So which is it? Let’s investigate.
Sleeping in for a few extra hours
Catching up on sleep after going a few days on a short sleep schedule shouldn’t affect you negatively. A study conducted in Sweden by the Journal of Sleep Research found that adults who consistently got less than 7 hours of sleep (without catching up) were at a higher risk of early death than those who slept in and took advantage of the opportunity to pay off their sleep debt.
So, if you’re falling short of the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep you should be getting per night, then reducing your sleep debt on your days off could help you feel more rested.
5 benefits of sleeping in to catch up on lost sleep
During sleep, your body revitalises itself by repairing tissue and stimulating cell growth. At the same time, your brain consolidates your memories of the day to help you learn and retain information. When you sleep in to catch up on lost hours, it’s like you are plugging your body into a charger that replenishes your energy and fills up your sleep bank.
Not only that, there are even more benefits to indulging in a little weekend lie-in. Take a look.
1. Reduces stress
When you reduce sleep debt, you give your body a chance to stabilise your stress levels. During the day the body releases cortisol, a hormone which keeps you alert and vigilant. Cortisol levels dip in the evening as melatonin (your sleep hormone) increases. Sleeping in helps to return your body to a state of relaxation as the stress hormone goes down.
2. Cognitive development
According to the Sleep Foundation, gaining extra sleep feeds your high-level, innovative thinking and problem-solving abilities. Your brain cells receive a proverbial spark, boosting brain development and enabling you to be more creative.
3. Helps the body fight infections
T-cells are a group of antibodies that are produced only when you are asleep. These cells fight off nasty viruses and infections, which is why sleeping in when you are feeling under the weather helps defend your body against illness.
4. Can improve memory
Sleep revives the part of the brain where memories are collected, sorted and processed. Your ability to recall information that you may have learnt over the past day is all thanks to snooze time, so it makes sense to steal an extra hour or two of sleep on your day off.
5. More energy
Have you felt a spring in your step after taking a nap? That’s because, during uninterrupted sleep of at least 30 minutes, your body has time enough to restore some essential functions, like steadying your hormone levels and regulating your body temperature and metabolism. Sleep helps to conserve energy levels while stabilising your blood sugar so that you can release more energy when you wake up.
When to be concerned about oversleeping
Sleeping in can be a good way to score some much-needed R&R, give your body an energy boost and reduce your sleep debt, but there are some negative effects too.
Studies have found that sleeping in can disrupt your circadian rhythm. This natural sleep-wake cycle runs internally, helping to wake you up in the morning and signal to your body when you’re tired. If it is disrupted, this can manifest as grogginess.
If you find yourself always sleeping in even after you’ve gotten high-quality sleep then it may be time to investigate if your hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) is caused by a sleep disorder like narcolepsy. Or, whether it’s linked to anxiety and depression, or health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
If a Sunday morning lie-in is not your thing, you can steal some extra z’s by taking an afternoon nap. Studies have shown that a power nap can help to increase your stamina and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke – all good reasons to spend a little extra time between the sheets.