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Can You Really ‘Catch Up’ on Sleep?

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The day starts very early for many people, myself included. That 4:30 alarm is just brutal some days, so I take naps and sleep in a little on the weekends to catch up but can you really catch up on sleep?

According to one sleep expert, you can’t ‘catch up’ on sleep and if you try, you’ll just end up making things worse.

Sleep medicine specialist Dr. Gregory Carter with the University of Texas, there is no such thing as catching up on your zzzs because our bodies don’t work that way and if you sleep in on the weekends, you mess with your internal clock or circadian rhythm which regulates sleep and waking time and can lead you being more tired during the week.

Dr. Carter says that sleeping in a little is fine, but anything more than a couple of hours of extra sleep can make Monday morning even worse than Monday morning already is. Dr. Carter says if you’re feeling tired all the time, go to bed (and go to sleep) a little earlier during the week, but keep getting up at the regular time.

If you aren’t feeling tired at night when you should be feeling tired, there are a few things you can do to help yourself get to bed and fall asleep.

Have a routine you start each evening at roughly the same time. After a little while, your body will learn that it’s time to get ready to go to sleep. Don’t watch TV before you go to bed, don’t use your bedroom as an office, and don’t have a lot of light in the bedroom. The light tells your brain that it’s daytime and you shouldn’t be sleeping, so if you have an alarm clock with a bright display, turn it around or find the dimmer switch and turn it down as low as it will go. If your partner likes to stay up and read with the light on, get an eye mask to block out the light. It totally helps.

Try and stay away from sleep aids if you can. If you take a pain reliever with a sleep aid like dyphenhydromine and you don’t need the pain relief, you could cause liver damage, and dyphenhydromine stays in your system for more than eight hours and you could just end up feeling more tired the next morning.

What are some of your tricks for getting a good night’s sleep?

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