Life often interferes with our perfect 7.5 hours of sleep. Many folk rely on various strategies to 'catch up' sleep but is this really possible?
The idea of catching up sleep comes from our vocabulary rather than our biology. Human beings are not wired to run for very long without rest: our brains are big and need lots of energy to fire. However, many folk have bought into some bad sleep advice that gets passed around like a bad head cold.
Here is What NOT To Do:
1. Use the weekend to 'recharge' by sleeping in til 11am. Over-sleeping won't help you catch up sleep and feel better. It will likely make you feel worse. Sleeping more than 9 hours in one go will leave you feeling depressed and dehydrated with extreme brain fog.
2. Train your body to 'function' on 4-5 hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation will get you in the end. And it will leave you broken. Sleep deprivation causes you to lose your immunity, beauty and brains. While you may subjectively feel that you are getting used to less sleep, you will objectively be performing worse... at work, at home, whilst driving your motor car, during sex and even during sleep.
3. Store some sleep for later. Unfortunately, our bodies are not designed to store sleep. We need regular periods of rest to recharge for periods of hard slog so sleep accrued tonight, will benefit you tomorrow but will not last Monday to Friday.
The best way to 'correct' or 'reset' your sleep is to follow this plan:
1. Set aside three consecutive nights where you will go to sleep as close to sunset as possible. Inform the necessary folk that this is your plan so you are well supported.
2. Set an alarm to wake up as close to sunrise as possible. Get up with this alarm. Do not hit the snooze button.
3. Implement perfect sleep hygiene to give yourself the best chance of having good quality sleep. This means turning off bright screens, banishing your phone, using ear plugs and an eye mask if necessary as well as choosing your food and beverages wisely.
4. Take medication if necessary. You may have accrued tension headaches, back pain and/or the flu thanks to burning the candle at both ends. You will need to use medication to treat your symptoms so you can sleep. The idea is not to knock yourself out, but to prevent multiple night wakings, because you will wake if you are in pain or cannot breathe through your nose.
Three consecutive nights of 7.5 - 9 hours of good sleep is what your body needs to restore itself. However, it may be wise to implement some long-term sleep deprivation survival strategies, rather than returning to your previous habits.
For other great sleep strategies when pressed for time check out this blog.