Wearing my confused face

Heaven is…..waking up on a Saturday morning and knowing that you don’t have to get out of bed. You can pull the covers right up to your chin, roll over and doze……mmmmm.

You can imagine my pleasure (picture big cheesy grin) this morning, when I read that my weekend lie-ins are in fact good for me. The Telegraph website reliably informed me that “A single lie-in is all that is required to replenish the brain and boost energy, alertness and attention span after a week of restricted sleep, the study showed”. Then, imagine my disappointment (cue sad, puppy-dog eyes and wobbly bottom lip) when I read on the BBC website, just a minute later, that “A lie-in at the weekend does not counter ill-effects of lack of sleep during the week, a study suggests”. What? Two studies, with completely different results? How confusing. No, no…one study, two contrasting interpretations….

Now, lets look at the details in those news reports: The study, “Neurobehavioral Dynamics Following Chronic Sleep Restriction: Dose-Response Effects of One Night for Recovery”, reported in the latest issue of the journal Sleep, was a sleep deprivation experiment on 159 healthy adults, aged 22 – 45 years. All the participants spent 10 hours in bed on the first two nights. 142 participants were then restricted to four hours in bed each night (from 4am to 8am) for five nights in a row. They were then allowed a single night’s “recovery sleep” of varying lengths, up to 10 hours. The other 17 participants made up a control group, who were allowed 10 hours in bed every night.  During the experiment, all participants were asked to complete tests every two hours while they were awake.

As expected, the study found that the participants whose sleep had been restricted performed consistently worse in the tests than the control group. After just one lie-in, test scores improved and the more “recovery sleep” they had the better they did. But, even after 10 hours of “recovery sleep”, the sleep-restricted participants had worse test scores than the control group for reaction times, lapses of attention and levels of fatigue. Dr David Dinges, the study leader, is quoted as saying “The additional hour or two of sleep in the morning after a period of chronic partial sleep loss has genuine benefits for continued recovery of behavioural alertness. The bottom line is that adequate recovery sleep duration is important for coping with the effects of chronic sleep restriction on the brain”.

The conclusion: A weekend lie-in can help you to recover from lost sleep during the busy, working week, but 5 lie-ins in a row is even better!!!! My happy face is back!