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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

Why You Can’t Pay off a Sleep Debt You’ve Accumulated Over the Week

Why You Can’t Pay off a Sleep Debt You’ve Accumulated Over the Week

We’ve all been there: you’ve woken up promptly at 6 or 7 in the morning Monday through Friday, dragging and exhausted as you got ready for work. Then when Saturday rolls around, you wake up and check your phone to discover it’s already noon.

While this is something we can relate to, it’s not actually “normal.” When you don’t sleep enough during the week yet wake up early every day, you may try to compensate for that sleep-deprivation you feel by sleeping in on the weekend. However, you may have noticed that even when you sleep until late in the day on a weekend, you still feel like you aren’t caught up in your rest. So you make the typical promises to yourself; you’ll get to bed sooner tonight, you won’t stay out so late next week, but those promises typically go unfulfilled and you typically go restless.

Sleeping can never be compensated

Sleep and your health isn’t like the bank; you can’t sleep off a debt you’ve accumulated during the week in an attempt to pay off the sleep debt. As you’ve probably noticed, no matter how hard you try, you can’t gain back that lost energy over the week, no matter how late you try to sleep on the weekends.

Let’s assume you were only able to catch six hours of shut eye Monday through Friday. You decide that if you can sleep an extra ten hours on the weekend, you’ll be able to catch up and essentially start over. While it’s a nice idea, it’s not a realistic one. In fact, your reacting times and ability to focus will tend to be worse than if you had pulled an all-nighter.

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If you slept poorly last night, or just not enough, you may have a chance to make up for it, but only if you make up for it tonight. If you try to catch on lost sleep over a long period of time, you won’t succeed.[1]

While some of you may have just read that and thought, ‘hmm, that means I can go to bed late tonight to finish up my project and I’ll just make up for it later,’ don’t be tempted. Sleeping late on the weekend to try to make up for the lost time will only result in further disrupting your sleeping pattern. You’ll only feel worse.[2]

One such study, done by Northwestern University, has shown that when animals are sleep deprived – even partially – over consecutive days, they actually make no attempt to make up for that lost sleep.[3] This study is the first to prove repeated (although partial) sleep loss negatively affects an animal’s ability to compensate for that lost rest. And as animals ourselves, we can learn from this fact.

Catching up a sleep debt later makes your brain suffer

No matter what you’re doing late at night, sleep should be a priority. The more tired you are, the harder it is to accomplish even the smallest task. Even menial tasks like participating in a conversation with someone can seem particularly challenging because focus requires an intensity that you can only achieve through rest. The distraction you experience due to sleep loss is serious. Not to mention how dangerous that can make something like driving.[4]

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Lack of sleep also impacts short-term memory. Research has shown that sleep deprivation has a big impact on verbal learning and cognitive understanding. The findings show that,[5]

“there are dynamic, compensatory changes in cerebral activation during verbal learning after sleep deprivation and implicate the PFC and parietal lobes in this compensation”

Essentially, we overcompensate in our sleepy state and hyper-focus on what someone is saying to us-but only in the moment. We quickly forget the information and that can lead to embarrassing forgotten events.

An extra hour of sleep a night for a rested feeling

Go to bed when you are tired; don’t try to fight it. Set reminders to get you to sleep earlier. You may start with setting an alarm to remind you to sleep half an hour earlier at night, and then reset it to an hour earlier a week later. Gradually you’ll get used to sleeping earlier.

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If you have to be on your phone or computer before bed, dim the screen brightness to aid you in the transition to darkness.

If at all possible, allow your body to wake you up naturally in the morning (this means no alarms). As your body resets itself over time, you may feel a bit worse before you feel better, but be patient.[6]

“As you erase sleep debt, your body will come to rest at a sleep pattern that is specifically right for you. Sleep researchers believe that genes—although the precise ones have yet to be discovered—determine our individual sleeping patterns. That more than likely means you can’t train yourself to be a “short sleeper”—and you’re fooling yourself if you think you’ve done it.

More than anything, make sure you listen to your body. If you feel you would sleep later than the alarm you have set in the morning, or like you need coffee in the morning to focus on anything, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting the amount of sleep you need. Don’t get caught up in aiming for 7 hours, 8 or even 9 hours of sleep. Instead, focus on what your body is telling you and how you feel when you personally sleep for 6,7, 8, etc. hours.

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Owe no sleep debt

Whether you’re a student, a professional, or a stay-at-home parent, remember that one of your most important and essential jobs is to sleep. While there are so many articles out there telling you how many hours you should get based on gender and age, none of those articles know your body like you do; so listen to it.

Whenever possible, skip the morning alarm. Enjoy coffee if it’s something you love, but if you realize you feel like you can’t function without it, determine how you could have slept better or longer the night before.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

More by this author

Jolie Choi

Having experienced her own extreme transformation process, Jolie strongly believes that staying healthy takes determined and consistent action.

The Only Music That Really Eases Stress and Pain Why You Can’t Pay off a Sleep Debt You’ve Accumulated Over the Week You Probably Forgot To Do This If You Can’t Sleep At Night How to Stop Your Thoughts From Running Inside Your Head and Fall Asleep in 8 Minutes Getting Your Wake Up Time Right is More Important Than Sleeping Tight

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

Benefits of Water: Science-Backed Reasons to Stay Hydrated

Benefits of Water: Science-Backed Reasons to Stay Hydrated

You may already be aware that you should drink plenty of water each day, but do you know why? Yes, it’s true that you cannot stay alive for very long without drinking water, but keeping well hydrated is also essential for general day-to-day health and well-being. The benefits of water are endless, and H20 is probably even more important than you already realize.

This article will give you scientific and academically based benefits of water. By the end of this article, you will learn some great reasons to stay hydrated.

The Nutritional Value of Water

In terms of nutrition, plain water contains zero calories. This alone is a great reason to consume more of it.

Unlike almost every other consumable, water is not a source of carbohydrates, protein, or fat.[1] Its only function is to hydrate you, and you can drink plenty of it without worrying about any weight gain.

Often, when you feel hungry, it’s actually your body telling you that you need more water. Instead of reaching for a candy bar, try a glass of water first, and you may find that the hunger soon subsides.

5 Scientific Benefits of Water

Water has so many benefits for your health that it would be impossible to list all of them in this article. However, here are 5 science-backed benefits that water has for your health and why you should always stay properly hydrated.

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1. Keeps You at Peak Performance

Your physical performance can suffer if you don’t drink enough water. In fact, your physical performance can be severely impacted if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water. The result of this can be things like fatigue, loss of body temperature control, less motivation, and lethargy. Exercise will feel a lot more difficult from a mental and physical perspective in this case.

On the other hand, studies show that a good level of hydration not only prevents the above from happening, but it may even reduce oxidative stress that comes with high intensity activities. This makes sense when you think about the fact that water makes up 80% of muscles.[2] So, stay well hydrated to remain at peak physical condition.

2. Improve Brain Function

Your level of hydration has a big impact on your brain function. Studies show that even a modest level of dehydration of 1-2% (of reduced water in the body) can impair many brain functions.[3] The fact that water can help you maintain focus and a good memory is just one of the many benefits of water.

This was highlighted in a study conducted with young women at the University of Connecticut. The research shows that women who had a fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise suffered from impaired concentration, poor mood, and had more headaches.[4]

A similar study involving young men also shows that a fluid loss of 1.59% increases feelings of fatigue and anxiety, and reduces working memory.

3. Prevent and Treat Headaches

This follows from the previous point that shows how important water is to brain function. Dehydration is usually the root cause of migraines in many people. However, beyond preventing dehydration, new studies show that drinking water can be an effective way of treating and even preventing headaches from happening in the first place.[5]

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4. Deliver Nutrients to Your Body

Although pure water does not contain any nutrients itself, it can absorb some minerals and deliver them to your body, which is one of the best benefits of water.[6] After a workout, water acts to help your muscles recover by delivering the right amount of nutrients at the right time. This is especially important at night as that’s when most of your muscle recovery happens.

Bottled mineral water can sometimes contain healthy minerals that your body needs like sodium, magnesium, and calcium. Just make sure you read the label to learn the exact mineral content of your bottled mineral water.

5. Regulates Body Temperature

Water is excellent at absorbing and transferring heat in your body. In fact, it is the primary way that the human body is able to regulate its temperature.

Water has a relatively high heat capacity, so the water in every cell of your body can work as a shield against sudden temperature changes.[7]This is also the reason why professionals always recommend you drink plenty of water in hot climates.

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day?

Now that you understand why you should drink more water, the next question is how much you need in order to receive the benefits of water. The Internet is full of uneducated responses regarding the amounts of water you need to keep your body functioning properly, and the most common response is the un-scientific 8 cups a day rule.

However, most scientists and health professionals agree that it’s much better to drink according to your gender, weight, level of physical activity, and climate. Read this article to know how much water you should be drinking each day: How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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The simple rule of thumb is to drink when you feel thirsty. Your body has evolved complex mechanisms in your brain and body to send signals when your body needs more fluid intake. Learn to listen to your thirst, and you’ll be well on your way to drinking enough water.

How to Drink More Water

After working out how much water you should drink in a day, you might discover that you’re not drinking enough. If this is the case, you will need to find new ways to drink more water each day. For instance, you can eat water-rich fruits, like watermelons, and make new hydration habits, like drinking a cup of water before each meal or carrying a water bottle with you to work.

If you’ve been trying to develop healthy habits like this one but can’t get past your procrastination, check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

If you need help to get you to drink more water, you can also check out the 3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water.

You can even eat your water from these fruits and vegetables:[8]

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Ways to eat your water

    Conclusion

    Water is essential to a properly functioning body. You should proactively try to keep yourself well hydrated in order to receive the many benefits of water.

    Hydration is not the only benefit of water you will experience from maintaining a good level of daily water intake. Water can help you stay at a peak physical condition, maintain brain function, prevent headaches, and regulate your body temperature.

    Make sure you drink enough water each day to enjoy all the amazing health benefits that water has to offer.

    More on Good Hydration and Nutrition

    Featured photo credit: Nigel Msipa via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Beverage Impacts on Health and Nutrition: The Nutritional Value of Bottled Water
    [2] Sports Medicine: Hydration and Muscular Performance
    [3] The British Journal of Nutrition: Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men
    [4] The Journal of Nutrition: Dehydration Affects Mood In Healthy Young Women
    [5] Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice: Increased water intake to reduce headache: learning from a critical appraisal
    [6] Livestrong: Nutritional Value of Water
    [7] Sciencing: How Does Water Stabilize Temperature?
    [8] Skinny Ms: 21 Ways to Eat Your Water

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