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Can You Catch Up on Sleep?

Always Trying to Catch Up on Sleep? Here's Why It Could Make You Feel Even More Tired

Shot of a young woman sleeping peacefully in her bed

When you've had a difficult night of sleep, it can be tempting to sleep in or take a nap to try to catch up — but is that actually possible? While you can try to squeeze in some extra shut-eye, there's really no way to make up for what you've lost, explained Rizwana Sultana, MD, an assistant professor of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Still, a quick nap can help you power through the day when you're exhausted. "Naps after a night of bad sleep can be helpful in restoring body function, and they can improve cognitive function and improve work efficacy," she told POPSUGAR. "However, it's key to take short 10- to 20-minute naps, as longer naps can affect the ability to sleep at night," putting you right back where you started.

Likewise, sleeping in or climbing into bed earlier in an attempt to make up for lost time can do more harm than good. "People who have a regular bed time and wake time get the most restful sleep," Dr. Sultana said. "The body functions best on a regular schedule, and it's recommended to have the same schedule, even on the weekends. While sleeping extra hours on the weekend may feel good, it may not be enough to negate the effects of sleep loss or sleep debt on the body, as well as your cognition and performance."

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If restless nights are a regular occurrence, work on developing a healthy nighttime routine. If better sleep habits don't solve the problem, talk to your doctor to ensure there's no underlying condition that could be disrupting your sleep.

Image Source: Getty / LaylaBird
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