What is Oversleeping, or Binge Sleeping?
Binge sleeping, a common escape route for those suffering from sleep deprivation, offers the illusion of a quick fix to feeling normal again. Picture this: you spend the entire week burning the midnight oil on your computer, only to wake up at your usual time for work, barely getting 6 hours of sleep. Then, the weekend arrives and you indulge in a few extra hours of shut-eye each day, maybe even sneaking in a nap or two. This is the essence of binge sleeping, but here's the truth - it doesn't actually work.
The concept of binge sleeping originates from the idea of having a "sleep debt," which plays a crucial role in discussions about sleep deprivation and sleep binging.
Consider this: on an average, Americans sleep for around 6.8 hours per night during the week, but that number jumps to 7.4 hours during the weekend (about 40 minutes more). These figures indicate that a significant portion of the population engages in binge sleeping, seeking to catch up on lost sleep.
Unfortunately, binge sleep doesn't eliminate your sleep debt. It may provide temporary relief, but the signs of sleep deprivation quickly resurface.
Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation makes you a worse feeling, less performant version of yourself, providing the following negative side effects:
- Lower sex drive
- Less able to manage stress and anxiety
- Less likely to get requisite exercise due to fatigue
- Under-perform at work, school, etc.
- Chronic irritability that can interfere with relationships
- Less engagement in activities
- More brain fog and general apathy
- Lower quality of life
- Lower life expectancy
- Lower pain threshold (makes pain worse)
- Lower ability to deal with stress
In short, sleep deprivation makes you feel less like yourself. Over time, these feelings and physical symptoms of sleep deprivation can weigh on our emotional and physical vitality. Overcoming sleep deprivation is about properly understanding how to do, and how NOT to do it.
What is Sleep Debt?
A sleep debt is an accumulation of sleep hours that you are not getting. Adults should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep per day. Depending on your unique needs, however, your requirement may be more.
To illustrate an example:
- You specifically require 8 hours of sleep to feel optimal
- Two nights in a row you only get 7 hours of sleep
- You have an effective sleep debt of 2 hours
It’s very important to understand what a sleep debt is in order to correctly understand why oversleeping doesn’t make sleep deprivation better.
Why Oversleeping Doesn’t Make Sleep Deprivation Better
Sleep studies show that getting one or two long nights of sleep does not remove the effects of sleep deprivation. It will make you feel good that day, but soon after the side effects of sleep deprivation will reappear.
The reason oversleeping doesn’t work is that your brain doesn’t respond to loss of sleep like a money debt. You can’t just repay your sleep debt and suddenly feel good. You repay your debt by establishing a consistent pattern of getting enough sleep.
Oversleeping, while it can make you feel better, and also make the side effects of sleep deprivation worse. Sleeping in a little bit is a good way to help build up rest, but sleeping in too much only puts you at risk for feeling more sluggish when you wake up.
How to Repay Your Sleep Debt Without Oversleeping
The proper way to make sleep deprivation better is to establish a healthy pattern of sleep over time. Two main ways to do this are to:
- Get a little bit of extra sleep on the weekend without oversleeping
- Get enough or a little bit of extra sleep every day the following week of not sleeping enough
In other words, getting over sleep deprivation involves consistent, restful sleep.
Sleeping Disorder that Cause Sleep Deprivation
Sleep disorders are a common cause of sleep deprivation, and they make it difficult or impossible to establish healthy sleep patterns. Some of the most common ones that cause sleep deprivation are:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
- Circadian rhythm disorders
If you are struggling with chronic sleep deprivation, please contact us immediately – start by taking this free online sleep test: