Sleep Science: Can You Catch up on Lost Sleep? Thomas DeLauer
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the question everybody asks can you make up sleep if you only sleep a few hours throughout the course of the week if you oversleep dramatically on the weekend can you actually make up for lost time and let yourself recover I’m going to answer this question and I’m gonna reference an awesome study from Penn State later in this video that truly answers it and gives us some good insight before I go into that I want to explain a little bit about what happens when you go into a quote-unquote deep sleep and what happens when you go into rapid eye movement sleep and I also want to debunk a couple of the myths behind that but first and foremost if you haven’t already make sure you click below to subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already and also click on the bell to turn on notifications so you see whenever I go live or whenever I post a new video all right so let’s talk about sleep for a second we have two ultimate phases of sleep now if you ask a sleep scientist they’re gonna tell you that there are a lot more but for the sake of this video I want to make it simple we have slow-wave sleep and we have rapid eye movement sleep okay slow wave sleep is where the hypothalamus is basically triggering us to start to fall asleep the hypothalamus is or the epicenter of our brain that dictates whether or not we start to fall asleep or not and the slow-wave stage of sleep is when we lose consciousness and we truly go into the deepest phase of sleep then we have rapid eye movement sleep a lot of people are going to tell you that rapid eye movement is the deepest phase of sleep and although as far as time is concerned it usually is the deepest phase of sleep you’re not in that deep of a sleep your brain is actually very very active and not in a state of recovery during rapid eye movement your body is generally paralyzed but your brain is very active so it’s not the best phase of recovery although it can be very good in terms of physical recovery since your body is very very still so we have to understand is where do the benefits occur well most of the benefits actually do occur during the slow-wave sleep and I’m going to talk about the specific benefits but I think most of us know what the general benefits of sleep are obviously we want to survive we want to be able to recover we want to be able to have better memory we want things to work we need to sleep but there’s some interesting things that go along with sleep that you may not have known so the University of Rochester actually did a study that took a look at deep sleep during the slow-wave sleep and how the brain actually cleared out toxins you see what happens is when we are in that stage of sleep our brain cells move further away from each other we have these neurons that communicate with one another brain cells that talk to each other to tell us what to do well when we sleep and we get into a deep stage of sleep those neurons separate from each other well that good thing with that means that all the things that need to come in and flush out toxins can actually come in in between the brain cells and sweep out all the toxins and what needs to be flushed out therefore when you’re conscious the brain can actually communicate better those brain cells can talk to one another because there’s not as much stuff disrupting the signal that’s pretty darn interesting now additionally when it comes down to fine motor tasks very small things that you may not realize are important the brain has the ability to compartmentalize and categorize those when you’re sleeping let me give you an example if you’re driving down the road and you learn briefly how to make a subtle movement just to avoid something on the road it may not seem like a really important thing at the time because it’s such a subtle motor skill such a subtle a little hand-eye coordination kind of thing well if you didn’t have that slow wave stage of sleep that small movement wouldn’t be able to be put in to long-term memory I mean you’d have to relearn that task every single time you do it which would make you very inefficient at avoiding objects on the road so that’s why chronic sleep deprivation makes us that you don’t even remember things that you ordinarily wouldn’t remember either wet what I’m saying is you don’t know what you don’t know you don’t know necessarily that you’re becoming more inefficient in things sometimes we have this cognitive awareness that we’re sleep-deprived too maybe we feel stupid or we feel like we’re not functioning well but there’s a lot of finite motor skills that we lose that we don’t even realize we’ve lost now here’s the interesting thing about REM sleep – nobody really knows what the benefit of REM sleep is you see we have this heightened brain activity we know certain things go on within the body but that REM sleep is not the sleep that you’re after it’s the slow-wave sleep and each time that you wake up you’re pulling yourself out of that slow-wave sleep so that’s the importance of a deep sleep but that’s not the purpose of this video this video is talking about sleep debt and how you could actually rebuild it or not but before I get into that I have one more thing to talk about what are some of the things as far as body composition as far as metabolism go that happens when you are sleep-deprived okay number one your leptin and ghrelin response is going to be dramatically diminished what that means is your hunger hormones and your society hormones are not functioning well this simply means that when you’re sleep-deprived you lose the ability to know when you’re hungry or when you’re full this can be extremely detrimental for someone that’s trying to of course change their body are trying to get in shape now additionally your insulin levels skyrocket when you do eat so what I mean by this is your body loses the ability to control insulin so when you do eat you have a massive influx of insulin whereas ordinarily that insulin would be controlled a little bit more and if you’ve watched my other videos insulin is the absorptive hormone it stops you from burning fat we want insulin levels lower if we essentially want to get in better shape and then lastly cytokine levels are diminished meaning your body lacks the ability to really process inflammation in the way that it should so let’s talk about sleep debt sleep debt is essentially the difference between the amount of sleep that you should be getting versus what you are actually getting an example again would be something like if you sleep six hours a night seven days a week when you should be sleeping seven or eight you’re gonna be in seven to 14 hours of overall sleep debt now what studies are finding is that you don’t necessarily have to make up every single hour of sleep you can’t have small incremental makeup periods but you’re never going to truly get back everything that you missed so although you can make up sleep on the weekends for example you may not reap all the benefits as if you were to just get the full amount of sleep but let me first off start by saying the traditional eight hours of sleep is not necessarily true a lot of studies have found that about six and a half hours is perfectly sufficient for most people and it really depends on the individual and depends on hormone function now I don’t just want you to go out and assume that you can get six and a half hours of sleep but it’s going to leave you a lot less stressed out knowing that you can get by with a little less than what everyone in the media tells you should be getting so I want to talk about a study that Penn State did that specifically took a look at how this worked within the body so let’s head on over to research land and I’ll give you the scoop so this study was conducted by Penn State University and published in the American Journal of physiology it’s a very broad scale study that really made a lot of headlines when it first came out what this study looked at was 30 healthy males okay and these thirty healthy males they put through a 13 day sleep study for the first four days they had them sleep eight hours okay they wanted to get a baseline they wanted this if we had this control how did their hormone levels look what did their inflammation look like what did their attention span look like what was their mental acuity like and what were some of the other markers in their bloods like after just having four nights of nice even eight hour sleep then after that they had them go six days with only six hours of sleep now granted six hours of sleep isn’t that bad but compared to baseline they were essentially in a few hours of sleep debt by the end of the study so then they got their baseline after being sleep deprived and what they found is that their inflammatory markers skyrocketed their interleukin 6 in particular went through the roof what does this mean it means that the body was in a heightened state of immune response making people very fatigued making them literally in pain and making it much more easy to get sick yeah they also found of course that their attention span diminished significantly and a multitude of other things but then what they had them do is they had them go three nights of restorative sleep with ten hours of sleep this was essentially simulating a three-day weekend where people would sleep in a little bit more well interestingly enough after three days inflammatory markers restored back to normal this is great news this means that we can bring our inflammatory markers down simply by catching up on sleep but what was really interesting was that attention span only partially recovered and some of the other biomarkers only partially recovered essentially proving that a long weekend or sleeping in on the weekends is only going to help you from an inflammatory standpoint it isn’t going to help you too much when it comes down to hormones when it comes down to cortisol when it comes down to cadogan’s when it comes down to anything else that really relates to your memory your cognition or your overall mental function pretty darn intriguing stuff now this is just one study but there are a multitude of other studies that ultimately found the same thing short-term amounts of sleep recovery only help a few biological markers over time we do kill off some of the brain cells so essentially what you need to do is still focus on making up sleep okay on the weekends you do want to do that inflammation is a big thing within our bodies but one of the best things that you can start doing is incrementally adding 15 to 20 minutes to your sleep pattern every single day that’s all you really want to be doing 15 to 20 minutes is a huge huge amount in the grand scheme of things the for us between six hours and six and a half hours is astronomical so at the end of the day I know you’re all busy people I know it’s not always feasible for you to get eight hours of sleep I know I can speak from my own personal experience I sure don’t so six and a half hours is a good number to aim for anything less than that you’re definitely going to have a massive increase in inflammation and a decrease in inflammatory cytokines that can help process that inflammation as always keep it locked in here in my channel if you have ideas for future videos make sure you hit them in the comment section below and as always I will see you in the next video
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Sleep Science: Can You Catch up on Lost Sleep? Thomas DeLauer…
Sleep Flushes out Toxins: Researchers at the University of Rochester found that during sleep, the brains of mice clear out damaging molecules associated with neurodegeneration. The space between brain cells actually increased while the mice were unconscious, allowing the brain to flush out the toxic molecules that built up during waking hours.
Learn and Remember Physical Tasks: A 2007 University of California at Berkeley study found that sleep can foster “remote associates,” or unusual connections, in the brain — upon waking from sleep, people are 33% more likely to make connections between seemingly distantly related ideas (as opposed to throughout the day) (2)
Sleep Debt: Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get – it is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep and it increases every time you shorten your length of slumber. Sleep debt can be repaid, but it doesn’t happen after just one extended sleep – the best way is to add an extra hour or two of sleep a night in order to catch up. For those that are chronically sleep deprived, it may take a few months (4)
Study (5,6) Researchers at Penn State University College of Medicine, published in the American Journal of Physiology, studied the effects of weekend recovery sleep after a week of mild sleep deprivation. Found that make-up sleep on the weekends erased only some of the deficits associated with not sleeping enough the previous week. Study included 30 healthy adult men and women who participated in a 13-night sleep lab experiment designed to mimic a sleep-restricted work week followed by a weekend of recovery sleep.
Design: Participants spent four nights sleeping 8 hours a night in order to establish a baseline. They then spent 6 consecutive nights sleeping 6 hours nightly, an amount similar to what many working adults might expect to sleep during a typical week. Finally, volunteers spent a final 3 nights in recovery sleep mode, sleeping 10 hours a night. Researchers tested the volunteers’ health and performance using several measures, including: Daytime sleepiness levels, attention span, Inflammation (measured by levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6)), levels of cortisol
Results: Found that 6 nights of restricted sleep led to significant deterioration across all but one measurement of health and performance – Two days of sleep recovery allowed for improvement to some, but not all, of those measurements: Volunteers’ daytime sleepiness increased significantly. Two nights of recovery sleep brought levels of daytime sleepiness back to baseline measurements. IL-6 rose significantly – inflammation returned to baseline levels after recovery sleep. Cortisol levels did not rise or change during sleep restriction. However, after 2 nights of recovery sleep, cortisol levels dropped below measurements taken during the baseline phase of the experiment – suggests that the volunteers likely were already sleep deprived when the study began. Attention levels dropped significantly during the course of the mild sleep-deprivation period – attention performance did not rebound after a weekend’s worth of recovery sleep.
Conclusion: Relying on weekends to make up sleep lost during the week won’t fully restore health and function straight away – attention and focus to bounce back after a couple of days of extra sleep, but can be recouped over an elongated period of time.
1) What Happens in the Brain During Sleep? (2015, September 1). Retrieved from
2) 5 Amazing Things Your Brain Does While You Sleep. (2014, September 28). Retrieved from
3) The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body. (2017, June 5). Retrieved from
4) Webster, M. (2008, 6). Can You Catch Up on Lost Sleep? Retrieved from
5) Can You Ever REALLY Catch-up on Sleep? (2013, November 5). Retrieved from
6) Pejovic S , et al. (n.d.). Effects of recovery sleep after one work week of mild sleep restriction on interleukin-6 and cortisol secretion and daytime sleepiness and performa… – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from 8