We’ve all pulled all-nighters at some point in our lives. Whether it was work, school, a romantic honeymoon, the kids, or maybe it was acute insomnia.
Most of us figured that compensating for the lost sleep the next night will be enough. But, what if it wasn’t?
New research shows that if your brain doesn’t get enough sleep for a single night, it takes several days to fully recover.
Participants who slept 30% less than required for ten nights back-to-back didn’t seem to fully recover their cognition even after seven nights of free sleep.
A week wasn’t enough time for most participants to fully recover. A week.
The authors wrote: “Prolonged periods of sleep restriction seem to be common in the contemporary world. Sleep loss causes degradation of waking alertness as reflected in attention, cognitive efficiency and memory.”
Neurophysiological, behavioral, and motor correlates of sleep loss were investigated for 21 consecutive days split into 4 days of average daily life, ten days of chronic partial sleep restriction (30% less sleep than individuals require), and seven days of recovery.
During sleep restriction, all of the relevant measures showed a significant decline.
Researchers found that people who work in healthcare, entertainment, or transportation don’t get enough sleep each night and that work-from-home schedules complicate our relationships with productive hours and rest.
Scheduling Sleep Based On Your Drive
In a healthy adult, seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended each night by the National Sleep Foundation.
Just one lost hour of sleep requires four days to recover.
Why are the effects so great? Sleep deprivation triggers a dramatic disruption in our circadian rhythm–in other words, the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that occur on a 24-hour basis.
People have different circadian rhythms depending on whether they are more active during the day or at night–the variation is referred to as a chronotype.
According to clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Michael Breus, humans exhibit four main chronotypes, namely:
The Lion (medium sleep drive): About 15% to 20% of the population is referred to as Lions. They are early risers with a strong sense of ambition, rarely napping, and highly alert at noon. According to Breus, people in this group should try to wake up at 6 a.m. and go to bed at 10 p.m.
The Wolf (medium sleep drive): The remaining 15-20% of the population is made up of wolves. These night owls are impulsive, creative, moody, and don’t require much sleep to function. For wolves, turn in at midnight and aim for a 7:00 a.m. wake time.
The Dolphin (low sleep drive): The dolphin chronotype is found in ten percent of the population. In his research, Dr. Breus defines such individuals as problem sleepers, for whom no specific time of day is associated with optimal functioning. Dolphins tend to be insomniacs, as they wake up feeling tired most of the time. Dolphins wake up around 6:30 a.m. and go to bed around 11:50 p.m.
The Bear (high sleep drive): 50% of the population belongs to this classification. Typically, they perform their best in the mid-morning to early afternoon, especially if they wake up at 7:00 a.m. and go to bed around 11:10 p.m.
It is suggested that you eliminate distractions like TV and internet scrolling before bedtime to prepare yourself to fall asleep quickly.