Categories: Sleep Science

Sleeping in on Saturday: Why it’s a Bad Idea

It’s Friday and for most of us that means the first break in a long work week. I’m sure on most of your agendas for this summer weekend, catching up on sleep will be at top of the list. While it may seem like a good idea to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday to catch up on the lack of sleep from the rest of the week, there are some significant reasons and research to support that sleeping in on the weekend is not the best idea.

According to the researchers at LiveScience, a group of testers had only four hours of sleep a night for five days straight. On the sixth day, they were granted a ten-hour sleep cycle and while it did correct some effects of chronic sleep restriction, the testers experienced lapses in attention and severely delayed reaction times when they woke up.

Popular Science also did a study on this topic and found a similar conclusion. They cited one of the reasons it’s so hard to wake up on Monday is because of sleeping in on the weekends. According to Jean Matheson, a sleep-disorders specialist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, “When people sleep late on weekends, they revert to their natural phase-delayed rhythm.” This makes it harder to wake up early on weekdays. You can train yourself to wake up earlier, Matheson says, by setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day (and heeding its call). Extended exposure to artificial light like computer screens, TVs or bright reading lights too close to bed can trick the brain into thinking it’s daytime. Your brain is sensitive to these elements and they can affect your sleeping pattern.

ABC News also found another reason sleeping in on Saturday can be harmful to you. A recent German study found that sleeping in on the weekend can actually lead to weight gain. They studied the sleeping patterns of 65,000 participants and found that those with severe differences between weekday and weekend sleep habits were three times more likely to be obese. The scientists coined these habits as “social jet lag.” According to them, social jet lag is “the discrepancy between what our body clock wants us to do and what our social clock wants us to do,” says Till Roenneberg, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Munich’s Institute of Medical Psychology, in Germany. “It almost looks as if people on a Friday evening fly from Paris to New York, and on Monday morning they fly back again.”

Social jet lag has lasting effects which include our eating habits. If you’re sleeping late, you’re forced to eat at odd times when your body isn’t ready for digestion which can cause you to pack on fat.

While only your body knows what sleep patterns are right for you, it’s an interesting theory and one to be considered, especially on this Friday. Happy weekend and remember, don’t sleep too late tomorrow!

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