This is the latest installment of a regular feature here at SleepBetter.org: Sleep Myth Monday, where we bust sleep myths wide open, or verify that they’re actually not myths at all.
Myth or Truth: Sleeping in on the weekends can allow you to catch up on lost sleep during the week.
Brand new research confirms what scientists have suspected — sleeping more on the weekends does NOT allow you to catch up on sleep lost due to not getting enough rest during the week. During the study, researchers at Penn State University subjected volunteers to sleep deprivation and then tested their physical and mental speed. They then allowed the subjects two nights of “catch-up” sleep to simulate a weekend. The subjects’ ability to pay attention was reduced during the period of sleep deprivation, but it did not recover after two nights of good sleep:
“Two nights of extended recovery sleep may not be sufficient to overcome behavioral alertness deficits resulting from mild sleep restriction,” the study authors wrote. “This may have important implications for people with safety-critical professions, such as health care workers, as well as transportation system employees (drivers, pilots, etc.),” Alexandros Vgontzas, of the Penn State University College of Medicine, said.
So, what’s a person to do? The best policy is to create a good sleep schedule that allows you to get about eight hours of sleep per night, and then stick to it no matter what day of the week it is.