Trying to Make Up for a Lack of Sleep Can Make You More Tired



We all have those nights when sleep just won’t happen. Sometimes, unfortunately, just being really tired isn’t good enough to shut your mind down and allow your body the rest it should always have.

Recently at the SLEEP 2016 annual meeting with members of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, a study presented shined a light on which factors could lead to a person going from an acute insomniac to a chronic insomniac – namely going to bed early, sleeping in late and napping the day after a bad night’s sleep.

Acute insomnia is defined as taking 30 minutes to fall asleep, or being awake for 30 minutes during the time in which you’re usually sleeping at night, over a two-week period. Chronic insomnia, however, includes having those same occurrences, but instead having them last for three months or more.

According to the study’s Lead Author, Michael Perlis, PhD, trying to make up for lost hours of sleep by adjusting your bedtime routine can screw up a body’s sleeping pattern. Thus, it needs to be understood that trying to make up for loss of sleep can only cause more problems when it comes to having solid sack time.

“Don’t sleep in, don’t nap and don’t go to bed early,” explained Perlis. “Acute insomnia will fix itself in three to five days if you do nothing. If you sleep extend, you may have insomnia for life.”

For the study, researchers followed 500 “good” sleepers (people capable of falling asleep within 15 minutes of hitting the pillow) for an entire year. Each individual was asked to complete a daily diary and participate in questionnaires pertaining to their sleep habits. Once the results came in, it was discovered that 20% of these people suffered from acute insomnia at some point, while 48% of that group continued to have intermittent insomnia. Meanwhile, 7% of study participants experienced chronic insomnia, while 45% eventually managed to return to proper sleeping habits.

So there you have it – stick to your usual sleep times even through the hard times. Yes, some days may feel rough after a night of tossing and turning, but one night of doing that seems way better than struggling with sleep for weeks, maybe even months on end.

-Adam Grant