Study suggests an extra hour of sleep may not be bad after all

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This representational picture shows a man taking a nap. — Unsplash/File
This representational picture shows a man taking a nap. — Unsplash/File

People experience sleep deprivation for a variety of reasons, including studies, work, obligations, and travel. If not treated seriously, this condition can be dangerous. However, a technique known as sleep banking might assist you in balancing your sleep.

According to experts, sleep banking can help you make up for some of those precious lost bedtime hours.

Allison Brager, neurobiologist and author of “Meathead: Unravelling the Athletic Brain,” while explaining the concept of sleep banking, said that sleep is like a bank account.

“The more you can put in, the more you can take out, and the more you’ve taken out, the more you have to put back in in order to get your balance back to normal,” she says.

CBS reported that this idea has been supported by about 30 published studies carried out at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in the lab and in the field.

Brager claims that the results show that individuals who get an additional hour of sleep each day prior to the anticipated sleep deprivation period perform better. According to her, sleep deprivation can have serious effects, such as emotional instability and declines in cognitive and physical function.

“But people who are allowed to bank on sleep prior to that don’t have this significant drop in performance,” she says. “It’s more of a slow, gradual decline during that time than an immediate change.”

There is no doubt that a regular sleep schedule of seven hours or more each night is necessary for every person and encourages better health, but sleep banking can be useful occasionally.

Tips for sleep banking

The “golden rule,” according to Brager, is to get an additional hour or hour and a half of sleep at night, though she acknowledges that this is not always possible. She advises these two additional sleep banking techniques.

When possible, add time

Prioritise getting “as much sleep in as possible” on the weekends and other days when you have more free time, she advises, noting that firefighters, whose schedules are unpredictable, benefit from this tactic. “We always try to encourage them to treat their rest days or their off days like a second job, using that time to get as much sleep as possible, make up on lost sleep, and load up on sleep as much as possible.”

Take advantage of naps

Brager cites research that demonstrates the benefits of napping when she says, “If you are someone who, because of family constraints or just lifestyle constraints, truly can not have an extra hour to an hour and a half to sleep in every day, you can take a 20 minute nap in the middle of the day.”



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