Can You Make Up for Lost Sleep on Weekends?

The Short Answer from a sleep medicine expert

Insomnia: Can You Make Up for Lost Sleep on Weekends?

Q: Is It OK to catch up on lost sleep over the weekend?

A: In the past, sleep experts believed it was impossible to catch up on the sleep you lose — that once you’ve lost it, it’s gone.

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But a recent long-term study found that folks who slept four, five or six hours during the week, then caught up on weekends, lived longer than those who remained sleep-deprived all week long.

So you can catch up to some degree on weekends. However, sometimes people who catch up on sleep on the weekend will oversleep.

And it turns out that oversleeping has some of the same consequences as undersleeping:

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  • Oversleeping is associated with depression, which is linked to a host of other health problems.
  • Research suggests that oversleeping can make people groggy and cognitively impaired.
  • Studies suggest oversleeping increases risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity as much as undersleeping, because toxins and inflammatory markers build up.

So it’s really best to aim for a stable sleep time, bedtime and wake time every day of the week. This will help you get the regular sleep needed to restore your brain and every cell in your body.

—Sleep medicine specialist Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, MS

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