If you are chronically sleep deprived, you may need more than a weekend of rest to eliminate your sleep debt.

A study had participants undergo a three-week regimen averaging 5.6 hours of sleep every 24 hours. The participants then were put through performance tasks at different times of the day and their reaction times measured.

Reaction Time Three Times Slower

The results showed that throughout the entire study, participants’ reaction time was relatively stable early in the day, suggesting that there may be an initial short-term benefit from getting a long period of rest. However, when the subjects were tested at the end of the day their reaction times were much slower, and by the end of the study the median reaction time was three times slower than at the beginning of the study, revealing that the subjects had developed a sleep debt. Additionally, the reaction time was even slower at night, showing the additive effect that the body’s circadian rhythm has on sleep debt.

Weekend “Sleeping In” Not Enough To Recover

This research reinforces the importance of maintaining a high level of quality sleep, especially if you are performing precise tasks or driving a motor vehicle while sleep deprived. It is also important to note that you may need more than a weekend of rest if you have built up a sleep debt from continuous weeks or months of not getting enough rest. So stay healthy and stay safe – get your rest!