Can you catch up hours of sleep on weekends? What to do to stop feeling fatigued?
Day-to-day stress, lack of time, work, leisure and changing schedules often mean that many people do not get enough sleep to recover, something that has repercussions on a health level, and it is also frequent that they do not do it regularly.
Some of these people try to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of poor sleep on a regular basis by making up hours of sleep. But, how to recover hours of sleep? Is this possible? Let’s see it throughout this article.
The importance of sleep
Sleeping is a physiological process of great importance that we carry out not only humans, but a large part of animals. During this process, despite the fact that our brain does not stop working, our brain activity and the waves it produces change, in such a way that the managing organ of our body is allowed to reduce the use of energy and begin a process of self-repair.
It is a vital phenomenon, in a literal sense: sleep deprivation can have serious repercussions and if it lasts too long it can lead to death.
Sleep is an active and highly structured process in which cycles made up of different phases are repeated regularly, in each of which different types of brain activity occur.
Specifically, we are going through four phases of Non-REM sleep (of which the first two correspond to drowsiness and light sleep and the last two correspond to deep and slow wave sleep, in which rest occurs) and one of REM sleep (in which the brain has an activity similar to that of wakefulness and is believed to have to do with the processing of information obtained during the day).
This process is therefore something fundamental, and carrying it out in a reduced or insufficient way causes our organism not to be able to regenerate completely, in such a way that different types of consequences can appear.
Among the different consequences we can find fatigue, concentration and memory problems, decreased insulin sensitivity, obesity and risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular problems and even a significant reduction in life expectancy or an increase in the probability of premature death. On the other hand, excessive sleep is not good either, since it can also generate many of the problems described above.
Thus, it is convenient to have a sleep schedule of between seven and eight hours, with less than six and more than nine being something harmful.
Get back to sleep … is it possible?
Bad sleepers often wonder how they can make up sleep. Although later we are going to indicate some useful practices to improve our level of energy and rest, we must bear in mind that although it seems to us that after sleeping too much after having been sleeping for a while, it may seem that we wake up energetic and totally restorative science actually shows that the consequences of sleep deprivation hold.
It is not that sleeping more is useless, but it is true that sleep cures allow partial recovery : part of the lost sleep is not recovered.
Evidence of persistent consequences
Most of the studies carried out seem to show that in fact we do not fully recover those hours of sleep that we have lost. Or at least, that its consequences remain.
In people who have slept five or less hours a day during the week, whether or not they increase their sleep hours as a way of trying to recover energy, it has been observed how the need for energy consumption and metabolism are altered. This alteration facilitates, among other things, the appearance of obesity.
Linked to this, a greater propensity for type two diabetes has also been detected, since insulin sensitivity is also reduced in the body.
It has also been observed that energy levels y remain lower than usual after the first hours, as well as an increase in levels of drowsiness and physical and mental fatigue. Our reflexes remain reduced, as well as our ability to concentrate in a sustained way, something on the other hand logical if we think that we are talking about five days a week sleeping little and only two of sleeping more.
Yes, some improvements are observed
Now, it is true that the data show that people who do not sleep for a long time as an attempt to recover hours see their insulin sensitivity more altered throughout the body, while those who do recover sensitivity decrease in more specific areas .
In addition to this, a recent study published in the Journal of Sleep Research seems to indicate that although it may not eliminate all the adverse effects of poor sleep, recovering hours of sleep during the weekend reduces the life expectancy of people who resort to This practice is equaled over time with those who sleep seven hours a day.
This is especially relevant when compared with people who sleep less than five hours a day and then do not regain sleep: the risk of premature mortality increases dramatically. Of course, the data show that the risk is not increased only if the sleep during the weekend is prolonged.
Likewise, weekend recoveries seem to help control the dysregulations that lack of sleep generates at the blood pressure level in adults, as well as to reduce the risk of obesity in children (compared to the existing risk if recovery is not attempted with a prolonged period of sleep).
How to get a restful sleep and how to try to recover hours
Both sleeping little and sleeping too much can be bad, but as a general rule, the former is much more common and prevalent. We sleep little for many reasons, often for external causes such as work hours or internal causes such as anxiety. And it is common for this pattern to repeat itself regularly, leaving us exhausted. How to recover these lost hours of sleep or at least get rid of some of the fatigue that it entails?
1. Make a hole in your sleep schedule
We have already seen that sleep is necessary. Regardless of everything we have to do or want to take advantage of the time, the first step is to plan a space where we can rest. It is advisable to do it on a daily basis, so that we have a healthy routine.
If we do not sleep well at night, it is advisable to eliminate possible daytime naps. Now, if sleep is insufficient during the night regardless of whether we take naps or not and although naps are not the best idea to have a quality sleep, they can help us to recover some energy as something specific.
2. Keep a sleep log
Another useful strategy is to keep track of how long we sleep. We are not talking about going to bed with a stopwatch, but about counting the approximate time we have slept and, if possible, the stimuli or causes that we believe may have made it difficult to keep a normal schedule. This also serves to reflect on how to improve our schedules.
3. If you sleep little in the day to day, take advantage of the holidays
If for different reasons it is not possible to sleep regularly, a useful practice may be to dedicate weekends and holidays to recovering energy. As we have seen previously, the hours of sleep are not fully recovered and some of the difficulties will continue to remain, but they do allow a partial recovery.
3. No to caffeine and other stimulants
Drinking coffee, tea, energy drinks and other substances are common practices that we often use to stay energetic. It is a useful strategy in this sense, especially if it occurs with adequate sleep schedules or in which we have sporadically slept less than normal.
However, if sleep difficulties are common, the consumption of these substances is not recommended.
Although in the morning it can be good to clear up, we should avoid them at least during the afternoon, so that fatigue can lead us to sleep naturally. This is especially relevant if the causes of lack of sleep are internal, such as anxiety, since the consumption of stimulants in this case enhances nervous activation.
4. Prepare the environment before sleeping
It is necessary to bear in mind that there are many stimuli that can cause us problems sleeping in a restorative way and that make it difficult to compensate for lost sleep. In this sense, we must bear in mind that we must limit or eliminate the presence of screen lights (computers, mobiles), try to stay in an area with a relatively constant temperature and with enough space to be able to rest comfortably.
5. The bed to sleep
Another problem that can make sleeping difficult is the fact that we use our bed regularly for other activities and even for work or study. In this way, our body will not link bed with rest but with activity, something that will make it difficult to fall asleep and make up for lost hours. Let’s reserve the bed to sleep, or at most to have relationships.
6. Exercise, but not before bed
Another strategy that can help us recover hours of sleep is to get tired through exercise. However, we must limit exercise as the time to go to bed approaches : the practice of exercise generates an activation of the organism that will make it difficult to sleep if we do it before going to bed.
7. If you see that you do not fall asleep, do not stay in bed
Often people with insomnia and other sleep problems tend to stay in bed even if they can not sleep. The truth is that the best thing to do if this does not work is to get up and air a little, avoiding stimuli such as mobiles and televisions.
If necessary we can do some simple and automatic activity, but that is not something stimulating, physically demanding or fun or it could clear us.
8. Relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques can be helpful, especially if one of the causes of lack of sleep is anxiety.
Some of the simplest and most basic are breathing. For example: take air through the nose for five seconds filling the stomach before the lungs, hold it for five seconds and then exhale through the mouth emptying the stomach and lungs for another five. Repeating this for three minutes can help you relax, which can make it easier to sleep.
There are also many other variants, but they usually require prior training. Practices that work with muscle tension and strain can be performed, such as Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation.
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