I think it is fair to say that most (if not all) of us know that we should get at least 8 hours of sleep as part and parcel of their daily health and fitness regime and not lost sleep. Unfortunately, while we may know how to lead a healthy lifestyle, we don’t necessarily put it into practice.
Nowadays, getting 4 to 5 hours of sleep has become common for many of us. Our busy lives have dictated that we should maximize the chances for productivity and “fun” which in turn pushes us to think that staying awake will provide us with more opportunities to do so. In fact, we often commend people who sacrifice their hours of sleep because we think they are being more productive and are living a “full life.”
Sleep, as an important aspect of healthy living, has now been sidelined.
Science Has the Final Say
An extensive experiment conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington State University divided 48 healthy men and women who had been sleeping 7 or 8 hours regularly per night into 4 groups.
The first group was directed to get no sleep for 3 days straight (Geesh! They must have been paid well for them to agree to do that ?). The second group had 4 hours of sleep per night. The third had 6 hours sleep per night, and the last had 8 hours sleep per night. All but the first group maintained these sleep patterns for two weeks straight. Throughout the experiment, all subjects were tested on their physical and mental performance.
Two of the findings were notably prominent pertaining to lost sleep:
• Sleep Debt is Cumulative
There is a neurological and biological cost which accumulates over time. Among other findings, the researchers discovered that, after 2 weeks, the 6 hour group had a decline on their mental and physical performance to the same level as if they had stayed awake for 48 hours straight.
• Effects on Mental and Physical Performance go Unnoticed by Subjects
All of the groups believed that their performance declined for a few days before tapering off. Yet, in fact, is they were continuing to get worse each day.
What Happens when You Catch Up on Lost Sleep?
Recent research proved that catching up on sleep during the weekends brought daytime sleepiness and inflammation levels back to baseline. However, cognitive performance does NOT rebound to normal levels.
Sure you should catch up on lost sleep when possible, but the only way to keep your performance measurements high is to make sure you are getting adequate sleep every night in your comfortable mattress.
Extracted from an article by James Clear