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Why Do You Sleep So Late? Sleeping In on Weekends Explained

Staying up late at night and sleeping in on weekends disrupts our circadian rhythm and can result in disrupted sleep, grogginess, crankiness, and, worse, possible depression.

Three girls, who sleep in on weekends

Chronic sleep loss is not an easy thing to recover from. Waking up at different times on the weekends than you do during the week can harm the body’s biological clock. The lingering effect of poor sleep can result in low productivity and decreased performance.

Is sleeping in on weekends good for your health? 

Sleeping in on weekends may not be as good for your wellbeing as you think. Research studies have reported that women who sleep in for two or more hours over the weekend to catch up on missed sleep have poor cardiovascular health.

Lack of regular sleep affects inflammation and our “fight or flight” stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This can result in an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and stroke. Getting even just an hour less sleep than you need affects your ability to think and respond. Eventually, lack of sleep depletes your energy levels and harms the body’s immunity.

Changing up your sleep patterns on the weekends could have damaging effects on your circadian rhythms, affecting your wellbeing and productivity. 

Why do you sleep so much on the weekends? Three possible reasons

1. You are not sleeping enough during the week.

A woman who does not sleep enough during the week

Sleeping in on weekends can compensate for a lack of sleep during the week. If you’re not getting seven to nine hours of adequate and good-quality sleep, then you’ll probably want to hit the snooze button over the weekend. Some research studies have reported that people under 65 who sleep for five hours or fewer every night don’t live as long as those who consistently sleep seven hours a night. One possible reason for people not sleeping enough during the week could be insomnia

2. You have hypersomnia.

Another reason why you sleep so much on the weekends could be a medical condition called hypersomnia. In this condition, you sleep longer into the morning, resulting in extreme daytime fatigue and unusually long sleep times. 

If you sleep more than 10 hours on the weekends (even if you don’t have hypersomnia), you may experience symptoms of this medical condition simply because your body is inactive for too long. Waking up early on your day off can start to feel impossible.

3. You aren’t taking time to sufficiently recover from strenuous activities during the week.

If your job is stressful, it can be easy to forget the importance of rest. As a result, weekends offer you an opportunity to compensate for the sleep that you’re missing during the week.

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How to wake up early on weekends

Waking up early is only possible when it’s part of a routine. The best way to wake up early on the weekends is to develop a practice of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

Your brain releases melatonin (the neurotransmitter that helps you fall asleep) when you go to bed at night. If you follow a routine, your brain will release melatonin at the same time every day, helping you fall asleep faster. Adequate sleep also minimizes snoring problems in adults.

After establishing a bedtime routine, you can start working on getting up early. Wake up at the same time every day for 14 days to establish your routine as a habit. Once your routine becomes habitual, it will be easier for you to wake up, even without an alarm.

This routine will also encourage you to wake up early on weekends. Waking up at the same time on weekdays and weekends will become a natural habit for every morning.

A woman who wakes up early on weekends

Seven tips for healthy sleep habits 

Here are some quick tips for healthy sleep:

  • Follow a consistent sleep schedule. Wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends or during vacation.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. Go to bed only when you are sleepy. When in bed, avoid bright lights and any activities that trigger stress, anxiety, or excitement. 
  • Exercise every day. Light exercise any time during the day helps you sleep well at night. 
  • Reduce your use of electronics. Using cell phones and electronics before bed has been associated with poor sleep quality. Even exposure to bright room lights before bed may negatively affect your sleep.
  • Make your bedroom inviting and attractive for sleep. Always sleep on a comfy and supportive mattress and pillows. Make sure to change your mattress once it has exceeded its lifespan (9 to 10 years). Ensure that your pillows are comfortable and allergen free.
  • Take a hot bath before going to bed. A hot bath causes your temperature to rise and then cool down afterward, which helps you relax and get good sleep.
  • Read a relaxing book right before bed. Reading has been shown to minimize stress by up to 68 percent, clears and relaxes the mind, and prepares the body for sleep.

Many of us sleep in on the weekends as a way to compensate for lost sleep during the week. Staying up late and sleeping in on weekends can take a toll on your health, though. Sleep experts call this “social jet lag,” when your sleep pattern doesn’t match up with your body’s biological clock because of social activities.

Buysse, D. J., Grunstein, R., Horne, J., & Lavie, P. (2010). Can an improvement in sleep positively impact on health?. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 14(6), 405-410.

Carskadon, M. A. (2011). Sleep in adolescents: the perfect storm. Pediatric Clinics, 58(3), 637-647.

Grandner, M. A. (2017). Sleep, health, and society. Sleep medicine clinics, 12(1), 1-22.

Wheaton, A. G., Chapman, D. P., & Croft, J. B. (2016). School start times, sleep, behavioral, health, and academic outcomes: a review of the literature. Journal of School Health, 86(5), 363-381.

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