New Recommendations From The National Sleep Foundation Rethink Sleeping In
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is important to support your circadian rhythm, so your body knows when to get sleepy versus when to wake up every day. As such, the general recommendation in recent years has been to avoid straying from your sleep schedule, and especially avoiding social jet lag, when you stay up and sleep in later on the weekends.
Analyzing the existing research on sleeping in
For this researchers, a panel of sleep experts with the National Sleep Foundation wanted to dig into the existing literature on sleep timing and variability as it impacts factors like health and performance.
These experts assessed the scientific evidence on circadian rhythm factors, sleep timing, health factors, and more, to answer three questions: Is daily regularity in sleep timing important for health? Is it important for performance? And when you don't get enough sleep, should you try to catch up?
They looked at 63 different studies, and came to affirmative conclusions for all three questions.
No surprise, having a consistent sleep schedule is important for health, safety, and performance, according to these experts. However, and interestingly enough, they voted that when you don't get enough sleep during the week or on word days, catching up on sleep when you can may be beneficial.
So, to sleep in or not to sleep in?
Now, the results of this new analysis aren't suggesting you stay up as late as you can on the weekends and sleep in as long as you want. In fact, they note, catch-up sleep should be minimized only up to 1-2 hours, or taking short naps when you can.
"While some medical practitioners and researchers recommend that people maintain consistent bedtimes and wake times on all days of the week, notwithstanding accumulating sleep deficiency, this consensus panel concluded that sleep deficiency should instead be minimized by extending sleep on non-work days for up to 1-2 h and/or obtaining naps when feasible," the authors write.
Nevertheless, consistency is still key, and catch-up sleep should only be prioritized when sufficient sleep during the week just didn't happen.
Whether your work schedule is all over the place, you're a caregiver to a child or a parent, or you sometimes struggle to fall asleep, the reality is, we can't always clock 8 hours of quality shut eye every night. We can try our best to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, but when we need to catch up, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you can rest easy for a couple more hours when you need to.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.