You Can’t “Catch Up On Sleep”

A Harvard Medical School study has found that it is almost impossible to catch up on sleep. Attempting to sleep extra hours to make up for a night with little sleep does not improve focus or reaction times. The results of this study are very important to people who are shift workers or who have irregular hours such as doctors, truck drivers, lawyers, and law enforcement. There are some recommendations for shift workers to utilize the hours available for rest to get quality sleep. Use dark glasses to bock out sunlight on the way home, block out noise and light from the sleep environment using masks and ear plugs, and try to stay on the same sleep and wake-up schedule. Shift work increases productivity for business and organizations but has many negative effects on the workers’ sleep and health. It is essential for businesses and organizations who want a 24 hour work force to expend some resources to make sure the workers are able to get quality rest. Many errors by workers who are sleep deprived can cost the organization money and have contributed to accidents with injuries and loss of life.

Key Points:

  • 1Getting extra sleep to overcome sleep deprivation may seem like the right thing to do, but a recent Harvard Medical School study found that it’s not that easy.
  • 2The study highlights the effects of chronic sleep loss on performance and demonstrates that it is nearly impossible to “catch up on sleep” to improve performance.
  • 3According to the study, even when you sleep an extra 10 hours to compensate for sleeping only 6 hours a night for up to two weeks, your reaction times and ability to focus is worse than if you had pulled an all-nighter. This is not good news for shift-workers such as doctors, truckers, and law enforcement officers.

The bottom line is that there is no real way to recoup lost sleep.

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