Sleeping in on the weekends won't give you more energy during the week

trending 23/11/2017

We don't know about you, but we're definitely guilty of treating ourselves to a sleeping binge on the weekend to make up for all those lost hours during the week. 

But it turns out this may not actually be helping you. 

Your sleep health isn't a cumulative sum of hours you can accrue, but more dependent on the average number of hours you're getting. 

For example if you're sleeping six hours a night for six nights, then bingeing for 12 hours on a Sunday, your average hours of sleep a night is still below seven - which means you're still in what is called sleep debt. 

When you less than seven hours a night on average, you start to accrue sleep debt, which according to the National Sleep Foundation is "the difference between the amount of sleep that you need and the amount that you’re actually getting". Sleep debt can lead to drowsiness, lowered critical thinking skills, impaired driving ability and more.

Yes, if it's only occassionally where you have a big assignment due, or are working hard on a project at work, you can make up for a few days of lost sleep by sleeping in longer on a Saturday. But if it's your standard to deprive yourself of sleep during the week with the intention of stocking up on the weekend, that's when it becomes unhealthy. Chronic sleep deprivation can not be balanced out by the occasional binge, according to a study by Harvard Medical School. 

A sleep binge is a short term solution which will help you feel less tired on the day, but if you want to feel refreshed in the long term, increasing your average number of hours sleep is the way to go. 

So you will actually be much better off trying to get an extra hour of sleep each night during the week rather than holding out for that long sleep in on the weekends - you'll feel more energetic and alert, and give your body more chance to repair muscular tissue, retain memories and generally restore itself. 

In saying that, this will still probably be us this weekend: