As you were growing up, your parents probably warned you that sleeping late on weekends would disrupt your sleep schedule for the rest of the week. Many health experts would still agree with their advice, but one study suggests that the truth may be a little more complicated.
Swedish researchers found that subjects who averaged at least 7 hours of sleep a night lived longer than those who got only 5 hours or less. However, when the shorter sleepers made up for lost slumber on weekends, they lived just as long.
While it’s certain that adequate sleep is vital, individual needs vary widely and many factors are involved.
Run down this list to see how your weekend habits may be affecting your rest.
Sleep Habits for Weekends
- Pace yourself. Set a bedtime that will give you at least 7 hours of sleep. If you’re planning to sleep longer, add on a half hour at a time to find a schedule that recharges you without disrupting your sleep on weekdays.
- Skip snooze. Planning ahead the night before beats hitting the snooze button in the morning. Fragmented sleep usually leaves you feeling drowsier and more disoriented.
- Get out of bed. Years ago, it was popular to read the Sunday papers in bed. Even if you now read the news on your phone, go to another room. You may find it easier to fall asleep if you reserve your bedroom just for sleeping.
- Create bedtime rituals. Take advantage of any extra time you have on weekends. Treat yourself to a soothing bath or a hot cup of chamomile tea that will help you doze off faster.
- Take a nap. Depending on your individual body chemistry, naps may refresh you or keep you up at night. You can increase your chances of having a positive experience by finding a quiet place, blocking out light, and avoiding naps within 5 hours of your bedtime.
- Keep a journal. A sleep diary is an excellent way to evaluate your progress. You can use it for yourself or share it with your doctor.
Other Lifestyle Habits for Weekends
- Exercise regularly. Enhanced sleep is just one of the benefits of physical activity. As a bonus, a morning run or tennis game will expose you to early light that wakes up your brain and primes you to sleep at night.
- Eat light. Do you spend weekends dining out and attending parties? Heavy meals and snacks before bed can upset your stomach and make you toss and turn. Cut down on calories before bed.
- Limit alcohol. Wine and cocktails may make you sleepy, but they interfere with the quality of your rest. Switch to water in the late hours.
- Turn off the TV. What if you’re binge watching instead of dreaming? Restrict TV time to 1 or 2 hours and turn off all devices at least 2 hours before retiring.
- Leave work behind. Many workers are bringing their jobs home with them. For the sake of your health and productivity, try to take weekends off. Most studies show that performance peaks at about a maximum of 35 to 39 hours a week.
- Adjust as needed. Expect your sleep needs to change over time. In addition to age, factors like medical conditions and your level of activity may affect how much sleep you need and how well you sleep.
Most experts believe that any sleep deficit can be hazardous to your health so make sleep a priority each night of the week. Practicing positive sleep hygiene on weekends will help you to be more energetic and productive throughout the week.