(KCBS) – It’s not at all uncommon for Americans to burn the candle at both ends, as the saying goes. Plenty of overworked Americans look to their weekends and vacations simply to “catch up” on sleep. But, it turns out, there really is no such thing.
Adequate sleep does help both brain and body recover from a stretch of deprivation, but that recovery only goes so far.
“Sleep will try to rebound and get back some of what you’ve lost if you’ve deprived the brain of it. However, it will never get back all of it. It just doesn’t have the capacity,” explained Dr. Matthew Walker, a sleep researcher and Director of the UC Berkeley Sleep and Neuro-Imaging Laboratory. “What that tells us is that sleep is not like the bank. You can’t accumulate a debt and then hope to pay it off at some later point in time. And this comes back to a profile of sleep we see commonly in society, something that I call sleep bulimia. You see it in students….which is where they short their sleep during the week, staying up late, but they’ve got to get up early for classes. And then on the weekend .they just binge on sleep and it’s this real binge-purge sort of relationship.”
“They’re engaging in something that’s just not effective,” he continued. “Because human beings are one of the few species that do deprive themselves of sleep, evolution has never had to face the challenge of creating a safety net to get back what it misses by not having sleep because we’ve never done that before.”