Could sleeping in be good for you?
With around-the-clock schedules and increasing demands, it’s no surprise that Americans are sleep deprived. Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep is taking a toll on our health. Lack of sleep is linked to everything from heart disease to an oversized waistline.
But here’s the good news: Even if you can’t get seven to nine hours of sleep during the week, you can make up some of the deficit by getting more shut-eye on the weekends.
Playing catch-up with your sleep on your days off is a good thing — especially if you aren’t able to get the amount of sleep you need during the week.
Flex Your Sleeping-In Skills
If your goal is to improve your health, replenishing sleep is a great starting point. Like exercise and good nutrition, sleep is critical for optimal functioning. It’s also one of the easiest things to fix in terms of lifestyle habits.
But mastering the art of getting more sleep isn’t foolproof. It’s not enough to sleep in on Saturdays or take a catnap on Sunday afternoons. To help you rest easier, here are four strategies to squeeze in more ZZZs on the weekend:
- Tweak your sleep schedule slightly. If you sleep in too late or go to bed too early, you may interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythm. So instead of ditching your sleep schedule altogether, aim to rise — and hit the sack — within an hour of your usual times.
- Take a nap. A 15- to 30-minute power nap can be restorative, but if you’re sleep-deprived after a busy week, a 90-minute nap may be a better bet. Depending on the severity of your sleep deficit, snoozing longer than that could impact your ability to sleep at night.
- Watch the clock. Don’t snooze in the middle of the day without an alarm. If you take a two-hour nap, you may have trouble turning in at your normal time and sleeping through the night. Similarly, taking naps late in the day can interfere with nighttime slumber. As a general rule, don’t snooze within six hours of bedtime and limit naps to a maximum of two hours.
- Set the stage. To boost your odds of achieving restful slumber, practice good sleep habits. Keep your room cool, dark and quiet. Avoid drinking alcohol within three hours of bedtime and avoid caffeine for six hours before you plan to turn in. And ditch devices at least an hour before bedtime. Not only does the blue light these devices emit delay your bedtime, but screens are psychologically stimulating as well. It’s hard to shut down your brain when you’re scrolling through social media or messages.
Some people might need more sleep than others. If you feel rested and rejuvenated when you wake up in the morning — and you don’t drag through your days — you may be getting sufficient sleep, even if it’s less than the recommended seven to nine hours each night.
The key is to pay attention to how you’re feeling. In today’s world, people have difficulty knowing how to wind down. Being able to turn your mind off and getting enough sleep is very important.
Dr. Meeta Singh specializes in understanding and treating a variety of sleep disorders with a focus on insomnia, sleep apnea and sleep issues in athletes. She sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Columbus in Novi.
To find a doctor or sleep specialist at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).
Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.