Are You Sleeping More on the Weekends to Cover up for Your Sleep Loss?
Do you find it challenging to get a good night of sleep? Are you tossing and turning all night during the week, leading you to be groggy and sluggish at work? Are you sleeping in really late on the weekends to catch up for all the hours of sleep you lost over the week? If so, you’re sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation can lead to a host of health issues, so getting to the bottom of it and fixing it should be at the top of your priorities list. I’m going to go over what could be causing you to get poor quality sleep at night and what you can do to fix it.
Factors Affecting Sleep
There are many factors that could cause you to sleep poorly. Many of them are easily recognized, like being on your smartphone until right before going to bed. Having lots of thoughts racing through your mind can keep you up at night as well. This is especially problematic during the week when you’re likely thinking about something work-related. There are also other, more hidden, reasons for you not getting the high-quality sleep you need.
- The temperature of your room (either too hot or too cold).
- Artificial blue light you use at night.
- Caffeinated beverages you had within eight hours of going to bed.
Additionally, there are environmental factors, bad habits, your current biology, psychological disorders, medications, drugs, alcohol, diseases, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea that can all lead to you not getting enough sleep. Sleep is an essential biological function that you are doing for a third of your life, so I'm sure you want to figure out how to maximize the amount of sleep you can get.
Not all of the factors mentioned earlier will apply to you. Also, many of them can be eliminated with a little bit of education and a few habit changes.
Sleeping is a skill. It just doesn't seem that way because it can appear like such a basic aspect of the human experience. After all, we've been doing it for millions of years, haven't we? Our bodies are incredibly good at adapting and recovering.
How to Get More, and Better Quality, Sleep
We sometimes fall into extremes. We pick up habits that create an imbalance in some way. Do you find yourself doing a lot of physically-demanding tasks every day, only to find yourself perpetually exhausted, never quite feeling full of vigor, even after sleeping? Do you get mental fatigue due to having so many things on your plate to remember and process? If so, it would help to get more, and better quality, sleep.
It's alright if you feel this way. It is completely normal, especially given how demanding life can sometimes be. The first step to creating positive change is identifying and being aware of something needing to change. Once you have determined what is causing the imbalance, you can work towards changing it.
Getting quality sleep, and enough of it is one of the best things you can do for restoring balance, harmony, and coherence within your body and life. It will stop the cycle of you getting extra sleep on the weekends to try and make up for sleep loss during the week.
When you take care of your body, your body takes care of you. You can view it as a relationship. When you pay attention to your body's needs, it will be happy and help you out whenever you need it. When you neglect your body, it will not give you the help it needs. It desperately wants to, but it won't be able to.
The effects of sleep deprivation are serious so we encourage you to nurture the relationship between you and your body by giving it something that is absolutely essential: some shut-eye. Some of the effects of sleep debt are insulin sensitivity and an increased risk for heart disease as well as weight gain. Insufficient sleep sometimes leads to you taking naps. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you keep your naps short, about 20 minutes should be all you need to wake up refreshed.
You may think that recovery sleep during the weekend may help your sleep debt but according to a new study about sleep research done by Dr. Kenneth Wright, director of the University of Colorado Boulder Sleep and Chronobiology Lab that is the worse thing you can do to your metabolism and insulin production. Sleep duration is also a factor that should be taken into account when talking about sleep deprivation. If you find yourself going to bed early but you still feel exhausted when you wake up you may need to seek medical advice as there may be some underlying health issues you need to take care of like undiagnosed type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
There are a number of changes you can make in your life to improve your sleep hygiene. Here are some of the biggest ones you can make right now:
- Adjust the temperature in your bedroom, keeping the temperature between 60 F and 72 F.
- Get blackout curtains for your bedroom windows to stimulate the production of melatonin and reset your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle)
- Use earplugs, a white noise generator, or a speaker playing sounds of running water.
- Stop looking at electronic screens with bright lights at least half an hour to an hour before bed.
- Turn off all electronics emitting an electromagnetic field within your bedroom.
- Replace your bedding with moisture-wicking ones like bamboo, silk, cotton, and linen.
- Declutter your bedroom, putting away anything that is not essential to be out.
- Have a comfortable mattress and replace it every 5-7 years.
- Have comfortable pillows providing enough support, like buckwheat, down, and memory foam.
- Maintain a sleep schedule where you go to bed around the same time every night.
- Avoid exercising 2-3 hours before going to bed.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, sugary drinks, and nicotine up to 8 hours before bed.
- Avoid drinking alcohol too late.
- Avoid late-night snacking 2-3 hours before bed
- If you find yourself napping, make sure it is before 3 PM and it is brief.
- Avoid doing anything mentally exhausting or straining before bed.
- Take a hot bath or shower in the evening.
- Since you have a regular wake time on the weekdays, try to set an alarm for yourself on weekends so you do not find yourself catching more weekend sleep. This can also help regulate your internal body clock and circadian rhythm.
If you aren’t getting restful sleep at night during the week, it’s a sign that your body or mind is unable to relax. Identifying the root cause of your sleep problems can help you remedy them more quickly. However, even if you can’t exactly pinpoint why you are getting poor sleep, you can follow the suggestions listed. I can guarantee that you will notice a difference in your sleep patterns. The more you relax your body and mind, the more restful your nightly slumbers will be.
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