It's almost Bank Holiday, and while some of us will be looking forward to a mini-holiday, time spent in the garden, or indulging in a favourite hobby, for many, Bank Holiday primarily means one thing: enjoying a lie in. But is sleeping extra good for our health, and does it compensate for lack of sleep during the working week?
According to Stephanie Romiszewsi who is a sleep physiologist and sleep expert for Bensons for Beds, lie ins are actually not a great idea. In fact, the longer you spend in bed in the morning, the more lethargic you will feel throughout the day.
'It’s funny how we think lying in is indulgent,' comments Stephanie. 'The irony is that work gets us up during the week, but at the weekend when you have the chance to do the things we want to do, we’d rather stay in a dark room and lie there. This makes no sense – we should be seizing the day and getting more outdoors time.
'If you are recovering during the weekends then you are sleep-depriving yourself during the week, and you really need to fix this by having more consistent sleep opportunities every day (same wake up time, and bed when you’re sleep-tired – don’t force it, but don’t ignore it either!).'
In fact, consistency is key to feeling refreshed and alert; contrary to popular belief, there is no way to compensate for lost sleep or stock up on it in the knowledge that you won't be getting enough after the Bank Holiday. Stephanie's advice is not to be too obsessed about always getting eight hours' sleep – it's more important to go to bed at roughly the same time every night and then get up when you wake up.
Snoozing isn't the way to go either, as it just results in your feeling sleepier than before. The golden rule, adds Stephanie, is 'to make sure you’re sticking to your normal sleep pattern more often than you’re not.'
If you do end up staying in bed longer than normal on the weekend, avoid drifting back off to sleep if you're watching TV, 'so your brain doesn't associate your sleep routine with an awake activity.'
'Sometimes you do want to sleep in, and it’s not the end of the world, as long as it’s a one off and you’re not using it as a regular way to recover. Just know, the more time you spend in bed, the more lethargic you get.'
- Find out more about how to sleep well in our guide