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There are many reasons why many of us do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep per hour or more night. Travel plans, work schedules, TV enthusiasm and – a big one – with small children all demand a tribute.
Recently published in the journal Sleep research finds this up to six years after the birth of a child Many mothers and fathers still do not sleep as much as before the birth of their child. For parents, there is simply less time during the day to dedicate themselves.
So you can fall asleep? That depends in part on how much sleep you have missed.
A recent study in Current Biology shows how quickly the unwanted effects of sleep deprivation can occur. Colorado Boulder recruited a number of young, healthy adults who agreed to stay in a sleep laboratory. Some were allowed to sleep no more than five hours a night for five consecutive days.
"After five days [gained] up to five pounds," says study author Christopher Depner, who studies the relationships between sleep loss and sleep disorders metabolic disorders. Sleep deprivation can inhibit the hormones that regulate appetite, he explains, and people tend to eat more.
Depner and his colleagues also documented a decrease in insulin sensitivity in those with a lack of sleep. "Some people have returned to levels where they were considered pre-diabetics," he says. Presumably, this blood sugar increase in these young, healthy people would be temporary. But it is a striking indicator of how a lack of sleep can affect metabolism.
And even after a warm-up weekend, the participants still gained as much weight as the study participants, who were not allowed to get the extra weekend sleep. Conclusion: It can be difficult for our metabolism to recover from a week's sleep deprivation, and over time, chronic sleep loss can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
These results are eye-opening, but they do not draw the full picture. After all, many of us who lose sleep lose only a few hours here or there. Our sleep loss is uncommon and not chronic.
Consider this scenario: you have a long day of travel and arrive late at night, say about 2 o'clock in the morning. You have to get up early to meet early the next day. Is that a big deal?
"The short term effect is that you are a little drowsier ̵
"I do not think there really is one," says Winter.
Winter says that our bodies are well compensated for a bad sleep. "This correction is likely to be pretty quick," says Winter. "They slept only four hours last night, so you'll probably sleep pretty well the following night."
Although it is ideal to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, it is not the case. It is always possible to stick to this routine. And a recent longevity study suggests that this is okay. "We are very adaptable," says Winter.
Researchers in Sweden examined how much day of the week and weekend sleep were related to life span. The study involved approximately 44,000 people who were followed for 13 years. The researchers found that people who had fallen asleep less during the week but made up for it by prolonged weekend sleep had no increased risk of premature death. The researchers concluded that "long weekend sleep can compensate for the short weekday sleep". They published their findings in the Journal of Sleep Research .
"If you're someone who needs seven hours of sleep a night, you really need 49 hours a week," says Winter. In other words, it's probably okay to change your sleep a little over a short period of time, as long as it makes up what you need.
"Yes, I think you can catch up on lost sleep," says Winter. "I do not think I can ever make up for the sleep I've lost at the medical school and at home, but I think you can do it in the short term."
Even so, there is a potential downside if you sleep in the hospital Weekend: Too much sleep can throw off your body clock. So, an hour or two of extra sleep is fine, but you do not want to sleep so long on a Sunday morning that it's hard to fall asleep on Sunday night.
Another type of recovery: Take a nap.  "A 20-minute nap can make up for one hour of sleep," says Jim Horne, a sleep researcher and emeritus professor of psychophysiology at Loughborough University in the UK. He published a 2011 study that naps the benefits of a 20-minute nap.
Horne also points to a review study that concluded that midday sleep can boost performance – everything from improved memory to more alarm. But here is a tip: Do not take a nap after 3pm, or you may be bothering your nocturnal sleep.
And Horne has another strategy for a nap if you want to wake up. [19659006"Peoplesaycoffeecakes"saysHorneDieIdee:LayingLikeaCupCoffeeSleeping
"This coffee takes 20 minutes to enter," explains Horne. That's just enough time to catch a few Z's, and it has been shown that this is a "very effective combination" for drowsy drivers.
The caffeine-plus nap strategy is now under a variety of names. My favorite (with a hat tip for the writer Daniel Pink): the Nappuccino.
Follow NPR's Allison Aubrey at @AubreyNPRFood .