Thailand Health Tips
New sleep research suggests sleeping in on weekends might be a good idea after all, but medical researchers still insists that a consistent sleep schedule is still best healthiest option.
In the current day and age, many of us are not sleeping as much as we should: We stay up late, working late or studying (or streaming the midnight Netflix or the must have networking events at the pubs!), but are still forced to wake up early, thanks to all of those living obligations like work and school and yoga class first thing in the morning. So when the weekend rolls around, it can be tempting to sleep in, in an attempt to catch up on all those lost hours. (just do not forget to get up to get up and check out the latest updates on Thailand Medical news
and all our other websites.)
Many are asking, does catching up on this so-called sleep debt really help one’s body? A new study suggests that it might but experts still say you should not make a habit of it.
Sleep doctors have long preached the importance of getting a full night’s sleep which, for most adults, is somewhere between seven and nine hours a night. Studies show that when people consistently get less than six, it can negatively affect their health, including their metabolism and their cardiovascular system. Even temporary periods of short sleep can lead to impairments in mood and concentration levels.
One recent study, for example, found that when people got less than six hours of sleep a night, they had trouble completing basic tasks: They had a fivefold increase in attention lapses and their reaction time nearly doubled, compared with people who slept seven or more hours, even when they didn’t feel tired or realize that their performance was suffering.
Sleep Research Supports Weekend Catch-ups
A Swedish medical study published in the Journal of Sleep Research in 2018, provides a ray of hope that maybe some of these negative effects can be made up for by getting extra sleep over the weekend. The study followed more than 43,000 adults in Sweden for 13 years and compared death rates in that time period with participants’ self-reported sleep habits.
The medical researchers found that adults younger than 65 who consistently slept five or fewer hours were 65% more likely to die early than those who slept six to seven hours a night on average. (Sleeping eight or more hours a night was also associated with an increased risk, of 25%.)
However those who reported short sleep during the week and long sleep on the weekends seemed protected: Despite skimping on shuteye Sunday through Thursday nights, they had no increased mortality risk compared to those who consistently got six to seven hours.
Lead author Dr Torbjorn Akerstedt, a professor of psychology at the Karolinska Institute commented in a phone interview with Thailand Medical News “It seems that weekday short sleep may be forgiven by weekend compensation,” In other words, he says, it may
be healthier in the long run to catch up on lost sleep over the weekend than to keep a shortened sleep schedule all seven days.
Some medical experts however warn the practice still isn't healthy. These findings seem to contradict another recent study, presented in 2017 at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. That study, which has not been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, found that every hour of “social jet lag” a person experienced on the weekends was associated with a 28% increased likelihood of self-reported fair/poor health, compared with excellent health.
Social jet lag is a measure of how much a person’s sleep is “shifted” forward or backward on the weekends. If you sleep from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weeknights (midpoint 3 a.m.) and from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekends (midpoint 6 a.m.), for example, that’s a three-hour shift. Every hour of shifted sleep was also associated with an 11% increased risk of heart disease, as well as higher scores on fatigue, sleepiness, and depression screenings. The researchers believe that a shifted sleep schedule affects circadian rhythm and hormone levels throughout the day, and that throwing them out of whack could contribute to both physical and emotional health issues.
Åkerstedt says this research makes an interesting correlation, but he also says that catching up on sleep over the weekend doesn’t have to mean shifting your sleep midpoint: It could mean going to bed a little earlier and getting up a little later, rather than staying up super late and sleeping until noon.
Asst Professort Dr Andrew Varga, of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at Mount Sinai Health System, agrees that the idea that extra weekend sleep might mitigate some long-term health risks is “a totally reasonable conclusion to draw.” But he warns that mortality risk is just one aspect of health, and that there are likely more immediate consequences of lost sleep that a weekend snooze-fest can’t make up for. There’s a fair amount of research showing other outcomes, particularly with cognition, and in these areas it’s not clear that you can really catch up so quickly, he warned. Things like memory and concentration can be affected in as little as two or three days of short sleep, so the weekend may be too late to make up for those effects.
There is clinical evidence, says Dr. Varga, that people with shifted sleep schedules, opposite of the body’s natural circadian rhythm, are at higher risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes. But most research has been done in extreme cases, like shift workers who work overnight and sleep during the day, and not in people who simply sleep a few hours later on the weekends.
Sleep Consistency Is Still The Best
Dr Akerstedt says his new research suggests that making up for lost sleep on the weekends may be better than never making it up at all. But he does agree with other health experts who say that it’s better to get enough sleep every night.“Consistency is always key,” he says, as long as it’s consistently an intermediate sleep duration,not too much or too little. Getting too much sleep like more than eight or nine hours a night, has also been linked with poor health outcomes, including, in a recent study published in the European Heart Journal, increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and death.
While Dr Akerstedt isn’t convinced that sleeping in on the weekends can lead to long-term health risks, he does agree it can make starting the workweek again even harder. “The problem with sleeping in is mainly the Blue Monday effect,that is, fatigue and poor performance,” he says.
Of course, some people really are night owls and have trouble getting to sleep early enough during the week to get their seven to nine hours, says Dr. Varga. If you fall into that camp, he suggests talking to a sleep doctor about ways to adjust your internal body clock rather than trying to make it all up every weekend. If you steal a few extra hours over the weekend and doing so doesn’t affect your ability to fall asleep Sunday night,it’s probably not a big deal, says Dr. Varga. But pay attention to why you’re sleeping in, he says: Is it because you’re staying up late, and is that accompanied by drinking or eating more than you normally would?
The general consensus from most medical professionals is that sleep consistency and maintaining regular sleeping schedules and patterns and lengths of sleep durations are more important to a healthly body, however if you need to take that extra weekend sleep once it a while, do so, just do not forget to wake up and follow on your important medical news portal: Thailand Medical News.