I was a highly-disciplined student….until summer vacations came around.
Don’t get me wrong, I was every bit the good little nerd: I did my homework, studied for hours, never partied on school nights, and even consistently ranked among the top students throughout the batch. (Hey, my parents paid a hefty tuition fee. I wasn’t about to let them down, no?)
But all that went out the window after the last day of class. For me, summer vacations were all about playing hard to make up for lost time. Once, I got hooked on a PS2 game called Dynasty Warriors 3, and I’d play well into the wee hours of the morning. During that time, I never got up until well after lunch.
Oh, it was fun, but it’s not something I care to repeat (even if the PS2 is now a PS4, and Samurai Warriors has replaced Dynasty Warriors in my heart).
Why? Three words: Reduced sleep quality.
Eight hours of shut-eye a night means squat if you didn’t sleep well at all, and the consequences of poor sleeping habits add to up to more than just a miserable Monday morning. (Poor sleep or no, don’t we all have those anyway?)
Sleep deprivation brings with it a host of unsavory physical and mental problems, such as impaired decision-making, heightened risks for heart disease and diabetes, excessive weight gain, and even depression. So, if you want to live longer and happier, getting enough sleep is crucial.
So, what does sleeping in on weekends have to do with that, you might ask? What’s wrong with all-nighter Fridays to burn off all the stress from the past week if you can sleep off the entirety of Saturday morning?
Basically, later bedtimes and waking times throw off your circadian clock, which is the rhythm the human body keeps to produce different hormones when we go to bed or wake up. Also, your waking time serves as the anchor for your day; it serves to cue your body for when you should be awake and when you should be asleep.
Thus, waking up at the same time every day helps you sleep better at night because your sleep drive builds consistently throughout the day. When you sleep in on the weekends, you shorten your sleep drive, making it harder to fall asleep at a decent hour come nightfall. For example, if you sleep two hours longer on a Sunday morning, your body tends to feel sleepy two hours past your usual bedtime, resulting in Sunday night insomnia (and Monday morning stress).
If you want to correct this, consistency is important. You may want to employ an alarm clock and refrain from hitting the snooze button, especially during the first few weeks when you’re trying to establish your default waking time. A sleep log, which you can use to record your bedtime and waking time every day, can also come in handy for tracking your progress.
Lastly, waking up at the same time each day doesn’t necessarily mean waking up early. Society might convince us that early risers are, by default, more hard-working and more conscientious, but there are plenty of successful night owls who turn in at 2 AM and don’t get up until eight hours later. The key thing here is to consider your own body, your needs, and your work schedule.
Right, time for one last round of Samurai Warriors on the PS4 then.