There’s bad news for the weekend lie-in folks – it’s not helping us get to sleep at night. In fact, according to the National Geographic documentary, Sleepless In America, the simple answer to getting a better night’s sleep lies in banishing lie-ins altogether (plus those extra ‘snooze’ minutes), and waking up at the same time every day, seven days a week.
We asked Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, Silentnight sleep expert, why this is the case...
Do you agree we should be waking up at the same time every day - and why is this beneficial for our health and wellbeing?
“We should aim to stick to a good routine at least most of the time, and the phase before midnight is important. Even if we aren’t sleeping, then it’s important for preparing the body and mind to rest and relax in preparation for deep restorative sleep.
“Our circadian timer (the sleep clock in the brain) runs on a rhythm which functions optimally when it works to a regular routine. This rhythm is influenced by the light/ dark levels, which then influence the amount of melatonin we produce. Too many people in today’s busy world try to work against this rhythm, spending too much time in front of screens. The blue light from the devices and the dopamine-induced alertness both disrupt the clock mechanism.”
How do our sleep cycles work?
“We sleep in 90 minute cycles. Each cycle consists of five phases – light sleep (phases one and two), deep sleep (phases three and four), and REM sleep (phase five). Phases one and two are the preparation for the deep sleep phases.
"Deep sleep is what we all need, as it heals body, mind and spirit. REM sleep is when we dream and sort out our mental ‘filing cabinets’ – important for learning, memory consolidation and ability to focus and concentrate.”
If we adopt the ‘routine’ approach, does it mean the end of weekend lie-ins?
“Yes, but we’d certainly be less reliant on them to help us catch up on energy.”
Does this approach also explain why we sometimes seem to ‘predict’ our alarm, by waking up just before it goes off?
“Getting into regular habits does neurologically programme the mind, making it easier to pre-empt our alarm call.”
Is oversleeping/too much sleep bad for our health?
“Yes. It causes sluggishness and fatigue and can also lead to weight gain, digestive problems and other health problems due to secondary effects. Additionally, people who oversleep are more likely to follow poor dietary patterns, exercise less and even suffer mental health problems.”
So there you have it, from now on, we’ll have to set that alarm clock at the weekend too…
Like this story? Share it with your friends by clicking the orange plus sign below.