Make Asleep Great Again

Sleep deficits during the week can’t really be recovered with weekend lie-ins.

Weekly sleep habits

Ahh, sleep. Glorious, glorious sleep. We need it. We love it. And most of us don’t prioritise it. We all know that 6-8 hours of sleep is the recommended length of time for recharging at night, but most of us don’t achieve that, or we power through the week on a deficit knowing we can make up for it on the weekend. This was my sleep modus operandi until recently.

“Yo yo sleeping,” defined loosely as not getting enough sleep during the week and sleeping longer on the weekends, much like the same behaviour when dieting, is harmful to your brain and body and doesn’t actually work.

While you were (not) sleeping

In a recent Current Biology study, researchers compared several groups of sleepers: 9 hours per night, 5 hours per night, and a third group that had 5 hours per night and unlimited sleep on the weekends. The last group, who binge-slept on the weekends to make up the deficit, had the same negative impacts as the 5-hour group who ran a constant sleep deficit, including:

  • Increased snacking

  • Weight gain

  • 27% reduction in insulin sensitivity

This behaviour also effed up circadian rhythms, similar to the effects of jet lag, making it more difficult to fall asleep on Sunday nights.

How to regulate

Warren G probably didn't have a sleep tracker back in 1994 but he was obviously a bit of a visionary as he rapped about sleep regulation before all of today's research.

So, to regulate your sleep: aim for a consistent schedule every night. Instead of trying to sleep for 9 hours a night like the people in the study (let's be honest, for most people that's never going to happen), the next best thing is to sleep the same 6-8 hours every night, regardless of the day of the week.

And speaking of sleep tracking, I've been using an Oura ring for the past 6 months and they've very kindly given me a €50 discount for anyone that wants to join the sleep party. Use Dan50 at checkout on their site.

In summary

Grab a cup of Sleepy Time tea and limit the blue screen activity an hour or two before bedtime. You’ve got this.

FOR THE NERDY: Zzzz research.