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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.

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Last Updated on February 3, 2021

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

Green tea is one of the healthiest beverage. It is considered to be an “anti-aging beverage.” You’ve probably heard a lot about the health benefits of green tea — loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that are great for your body and mind.

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In this article, you will learn about the health benefits of green tea and how you can drink it to enjoy it best (for its taste and benefits).

Why green tea?

Green tea has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, originating in China but widely used throughout Asia, this beverage has a multitude of uses from lowering blood pressure to preventing cancer.

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The reason that green tea has more health benefits attached to it than black tea is due to the processing. Black tea is processed in a way that allows for fermentation whereas green tea’s processing avoids the fermentation process. As a result, green tea retains maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols the substances that give green tea its many benefits.

11 health benefits of green tea (you didn’t know about)

Here’s a list of green tea’s amazing benefits — benefits that you may not have been aware of. Some of these benefits are still being debated, so please do your own research if you want to use green tea for medicinal purposes.

  1. Weight Loss. Green tea increases the metabolism. The polyphenol found in green tea works to intensify levels of fat oxidation and the rate at which your body turns food into calories. Check out this article if you want to find out more about this: Is Drinking Green Tea An Effective Way For Weight Loss?
  2. Diabetes.Green tea apparently helps regulate glucose levels slowing the rise of blood sugar after eating. This can prevent high insulin spikes and resulting fat storage.
  3. Heart Disease.Scientists think, green tea works on the lining of blood vessels, helping keep them stay relaxed and better able to withstand changes in blood pressure. It may also protect against the formation of clots, which are the primary cause of heart attacks.
  4. Esophageal Cancer.It can reduce the risk of esophageal cancer, but it is also widely thought to kill cancer cells in general without damaging the healthy tissue around them.
  5. Cholesterol. Green tea reduces bad cholesterol in the blood and improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol.
  6. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.It is said to delay the deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Studies carried out on mice showed that green tea protected brain cells from dying and restored damaged brain cells.
  7. Tooth Decay. Studies suggests that the chemical antioxidant “catechin” in tea can destroy bacteria and viruses that cause throat infections, dental caries and other dental conditions
  8. Blood Pressure. Regular consumption of green tea is thought to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
  9. Depression.Theanine is an amino acid naturally found in tea leaves. It is this substance that is thought to provide a relaxing and tranquilizing effect and be a great benefit to tea drinkers.
  10. Anti-viral and Anti-bacterial.Tea catechins are strong antibacterial and antiviral agents which make them effective for treating everything from influenza to cancer. In some studies green tea has been shown to inhibit the spread of many diseases.
  11. Skincare.Green tea can apparently also help with wrinkles and the signs of aging, This is because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Both animal and human studies have demonstrated that green tea applied topically can reduce sun damage.

How much green tea should you drink?

These are some of the many benefits but the reality is one cup of tea a day will not give you all the abundant gains. The jury is out on how many cups are necessary; some say as little as two cups a day while others five cups. If you are thinking of going down this route, you may want to consider taking a green tea supplement instead (it would keep you out of the bathroom).

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Potential risks of drinking green tea

There is caffeine in green tea. If you are sensitive to caffeine, then one cup a day should be your limit. Here’s a way to help you reduce a bit of caffein in it:

How To Enjoy Green Tea By Reducing Caffeine In It

Green tea also contains tannins (which can decrease the absorption of iron and folic acid). If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, then green tea may not be ideal for you.

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How to drink green tea

There are plenty of choices you can have when you purchase online.

You can try mixing green tea with other healthy ingredients such as ginger, a healthy and tasty beverage option.

You can also try this specific type of green tea – matcha, which has a thicker texture: How To Improve Your Health With Matcha Green Tea

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Even more, you can experience green tea’s benefits with these match recipes: 15 Mouth Watering Matcha Recipes You Should Try Right Now

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