When you go through a night or several nights of little to no sleep, a common tactic is to use the weekend to catch up on all those lost zzz’s. The question is: Does this strategy actually work?
According to Fiona Barwick, director of the Cognitive Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Stanford University, the answer is yes and no.
If your night of poor sleep was recent, such as on a Thursday night, then sleeping in on Saturday should give you a chance of counteracting some of the damage of sleep deprivation. However, Barwick warns that you will never be able to make up for lost sleep entirely.
“If you’re using the weekend to catch up on a week’s worth of poor sleep, or poor sleep from earlier in the week, you’re out of luck,” Barwick says. “Your body clock has already been disrupted, and the damage is done.”
As described in ThriveGlobal, the reason making up for lost sleep on the weekend doesn’t work is because the wide-ranging effects of sleep deprivation occur immediately. That said, Barwick warns that this last bit is a point of contention for sleep experts. Some will say sleeping in on the weekend is better than never making up for the lost sleep at all.
For Barwick, however, the best strategy is to simply prioritize quality sleep on a nightly basis so that you are not forced to try and catch up later on.
Struggling to fall asleep at night? Check out this Optimist Daily article that details the four things you should add to your daily routine for a good night’s sleep.