Why Oversleeping Doesn’t Make Sleep Deprivation Better

Posted by Tyler Britton on Feb 2, 2020 7:56:00 AM

Why oversleeping doesnt make sleep deprivation better

What is Oversleeping AKA Binge Sleeping?

Binge sleeping – the thing many of us do when we are suffering from sleep deprivation and want to quickly feel normal again. A common scenario that illustrates this: all week you stay up late on your computer, and then get up at normal time to go to work – maybe getting only 6 hours of sleep. Then on the weekend you sleep in an extra few hours each day, maybe even taking naps. This is the essence of binge sleeping – but it doesn’t work.

The idea of binge sleeping stems from the notion of having a “sleep debt”, which is an important concept when discussing sleep deprivation and sleep binging.

Take, for example, the fact that Americans sleep on average 6.8 hours per night during the week and 7.4 hours during the weekend (about 40 minutes more). These statistics indicate that there is a large percentage of the population who is getting a whole lot more sleep on the weekend – aka binge sleeping.

Unfortunately, binge sleep does not eradicate your sleep debt. It helps a little in the short term, but the signs of sleep deprivation soon reappear. 

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?

Awake at the Wheel

A sleep debt is simply getting less sleep than you should. Adults should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep per day – period and end of story. Depending on your unique needs, this 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
  • Insomnia
  • 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:

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