A weekend lie-in to ‘recover’ from a busy sleep-deprived working week doesn’t provide the necessary recuperation needed to avoid the after-effects of poor sleep, according to the results of a new US study revealed in the journal Sleep.
The research, which involved 159 participants, looked at how people responded to longer weekend sleeps of varying lengths on the back of several nights containing just four hours of sleep, and compared their daytime performance on a series of tests with a group that were afforded consistent ten hour sleeps.
The participants who were part of the sleep deprived group performed notably worse on attention, reaction and memory tests compared to those who had slept consistently for ten hours. Although the sleep deprived group did generally underperform on tests, it was found that the more they slept the better they performed.
“Lifestyles that involve chronic sleep restriction during the work week and during days off work may result in continuing build-up of sleep pressure and in an increased likelihood of loss of alertness and increased errors,” said Dr. David Dinges, leader of the research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “The bottom line is that adequate recovery sleep duration is important for coping with the effects of chronic sleep restriction on the brain.”
The results of the study are concurrent with the theory of sleep debt and ‘banking’ sleep, in that sleep can handle deficits and surpluses in a reasonably accurate way.