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Weekend ‘catch-up sleep’ is a lie (washingtonpost.com)
280 points by wallflower 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 247 comments

Sleep is fun, people who regularly lack it will tell you they're "just fine" but they've been lacking sleep for so long that the baseline they're comparing themselves to is already skewed.

Take two weeks off, avoid alcohol and other stimulant, avoid artificial light after 8 and wake up without an alarm. You'll see how you feel after that regimen. Your body knows exactly how much sleep it needs.

But that's not compatible with the "work hard, play hard" and hustler mentality I guess. Let's see how it impacts us when we get older, I'm fairly certain that the younger you are the more abuse your body can take, it usually has lasting consequences though.



I dunno, maybe I’m weird, but without an alarm I can sleep 12 hours. And when I do, I feel like total shit: very tired, groggy, and a little depressed.

If I sleep 5-7 hours on the otherhand, I feel much better.

I am not a doctor, but I still suspect that your body is catching up on sleep it thinks it needs and the bad feeling after it is due to just switching between modes (switching off your current 5-7 hrs of sleep a night). If so, you will likely need way more than 1 night to transition.

As a personal anecdote: I once slept for 10.5-11 hours a day for about 2 weeks. I decided that I need to catch up on sleep, so I went to bed at 8PM every night, fell asleep by 9 and awoke between 7:30 and 8. After about 2 weeks I stopped falling asleep by 9 and would fall asleep around 11 and wake up at 7, at which time I stopped my "sleep fattening". I did feel like a weirdo going to bed at 8, but it felt great at the end.

YMMV, but if you can sleep for 12 hours a night I would consider letting your body do it for at least several days to see if it would switch to a different mode that your would like more. My 2c.

Another personal anecdote to support this; I’ve done this sort of “reset” more than once, and there is a qualitative difference between getting 9 hours of sleep between 10pm-7am and 1am-10am for me. Your mileage may vary, but that 3 hour shift is the difference between feeling like a winner or feeling like a loser for me. I don’t know if it is psychosomatic, but I also don’t care if it is as long as it keeps me feeling good.

This used to be me. I now realize that the reason for my grogginess was that I was totally dehydrated after my 10+ hr sleeping marathon. I now sleep with a water bottle and try to drink half of it before going to bed. When I do this I find that I will naturally wake up after about 8.5 hrs, drink the remaining half of the bottle, fall back asleep for 30 min, and then wake up feeling great. Wonder if this could work for you too

I, too, keep water by the bedside and drink some before falling asleep. However, the older I get, the less I drink, so I don't wake up every couple hours to pee. The moral of this story: don't get old.

this is true. my bladder wakes me up before most everything else, and it won't let me go back to sleep until it's addressed. I'd love to sleep 8-9 hours a night, but my kidneys have other plans for me.

source: am old.

Try having a look at Saw Palmetto tablets. It’s stopped my dad from having to wake twice in the night to use the bathroom.

I know it's practically sacreligious, but if you drink coffee, you should stop.

Can this be mitigated by keeping the room a bit more humid, so you don't lose as much liquid through your skin?

Especially in the winter, waking up in a room with sub 30% humidity is brutal.

I've found that drinking more water throughout the day has helped my nightly dehydration.

I have a theory that by oversleeping too much your body goes into sort of hibernation mode and wants to preserve energy to the end of the world. On the other by sleeping little and having strict schedule you enter a type of primal survival mode, similar to if you were sleeping outside on savannah, which keeps you alert even with minimum sleep.

I had and have the problem that if I don't put alarm on, I will oversleep and my day gets kind of ruined. So for me I always have to set an alarm and if I feel tired and have nothing on morning I'll maybe bump it by an hour. For me the best sleep schedule is going to bed by 12-2 and waking up between 8:00-9:30. This way if I occasionally stay up till 3-5 my sleep rhythm won't be completely ruined.

I have experimented with various different tricks and styles, recently after a long vacation in different timezone allowed me to completely transform my sleep rhythm. After I came back I woke up automatically 6:00 sharp without any alarm, and I went to sleep 22-23 which was quite bizarre. Sadly though I enjoy late evenings much more than early mornings so even if I went to sleep 0:30 I'd wake up at 6, very tired, which led me to sleep longer and in the end ruining the rhythm.

But what I've found out is, that you want to wake up exactly during the light sleep cycle as that's when you feel no tiredness at all waking up. If you try waking up during REM or deep sleep it will feel like pulling teeth. For me the best time is somewhere around 8 if I go to sleep by 1-2 which counts up as ~7 hours. Should probably track it better but yeah. Also I bought wake-up light alarm clock which is interesting but I don't know yet has it actually an effect.

Although I have to say following an exact schedule is probably the best solution sleep-wise. Decide a time when you have to be at bed and an exact time when you have to wake up, no matter what. I think doing this during my vacation is what caused it to be so ingrained in my body that I was able to wake up at 6 without any alarm.

See, I'm the opposite. Even without the screen time or stimulation, I will fall dead asleep at 10pm, and no matter what, will wake up promptly at 4am.

I feel like there really are people who have different needs.

Agree. I'm in bed between 9-10 every night (later than that is an exception), and read a book on my phone as part of my sleep ritual. My phones DnD comes on at 9 so I do not get any alerts while reading. From when I get in bed to read, to when I fall asleep might be 15 minutes depending on how much exercise I did that day.

I set an alarm for 6am, but even without one I'm up between 6-7.

Personally, I think the key for people who have a hard time sleeping is consistency. If someone is trying to go to sleep at 10pm Sunday through Thursday, but then staying up until 2-3am Friday and Saturday it's no wonder they can't get on a schedule.

> will wake up promptly at 4am.

A possible explanation is that you've trained your body to wake at that time -- but it isn't necessarily enough/appropriate sleep.

Wouldn't there be feelings of tiredness or some kind of exhaustion? I generally feel well rested and chipper all day.

Without those feelings of tiredness, how would you know if it's training or your actual internal clock working correctly?

You might very well be a short sleeper.

This. I haven't used an alarm for close to 20 years, though my cycle is closer to 12 to 6.

Well, that doesn't invalidate my point.

The whole thing is to listen to your body, the problem is when people do 12 to 6 with an alarm, while they'd actually sleep form 10 to 7 without external constraints.

I'm convinced that it's just your body trying to catch up all the sleep it didn't get.

Of course, lying down for a long time will have side effect on your muscles (headaches, groggyness) but I'm sure your body would return to normal sleep patterns after some time.

Why headaches from lying down for a long time?

Dehydration most likely.

One of reasons could be that when you are sleep deprived you have elevated adrenaline and cortisol, which you might got used to.

Check "Why we sleep" recommended elsewhere in this thread if you want to fix it.

If you eat more than 6 hours before sleep you wouldn't sleep 12. Hunger would be happy to wake you up. Learned this and even lost weight. Last meal at 5PM. Waking up constantly at 8AM without alarm (going to bed at 12)

In another the-body-realize-it's-ok-to-open-the-floodgate moment, I would always get really sick after making it through some intense deadline. I think it's just the body finally realizing it's ok to stop constantly keeping everything in turbo mode rather than associating the causation backwards.

I'll echo others who are saying that this could be because you are normally sleep-deprived.

Try to increase your bedtime slowly to 8 hours, maybe 9(but not much more than that) and keep at that for a while. See if there is any benefit.

It is unlikely that you are part of the tiny minority that requires less than 6 hours of sleep, so you should be sleep-deprived with only 5 hours.

Personal anecdote: my sleep patterns were very similar. Until I got diagnosed with sleep apnea. My body wanted more sleep – but the more I slept, the more apnea events I would have. So, I would wake up feeling like death, and with a headache, due to my brain getting starved of oxygen.

Not saying that this is your problem or that there is even a problem, but you could raise this issue on your next checkup. Maybe your doctor will have some suggestions.

Because it is weird, as you rightly point out. Trust your judgement.

As someone who has had a ton of sleep issues over the years this seems like the best advice here, although I would not increase past 8 hours and a regular 7 hours is likely to be fine for most people. Sleep apnea and circadian issues are common and worth considering, but there is a lot of individual variation in sleep so ultimately what feels best to you is likely what is best for you (other than that <6 hours of sleep is not a good idea). Sleeping much longer than usual may trigger circadian issues so it is worth being careful.

In my experience it takes years for circadian changes to stabilize, at least once they are sufficiently disrupted (I have Non-24 and have been able to stop shifting my sleep for over a year at a time but eventually it comes back). At the same time, it seems to me that catching up on sleep is only really possible to a limited extent and only for a couple of days after sleep deprevation no matter how long the deprevation. Getting sufficient sleep for a while after sleep deprevation does seem to help reduce the effects of future deprevation, but I don't think getting extra sleep really helps. Keeping a stable circadian rhythm with suffient sleep is most important.

I suspect that if not something like apnea that 10-12 hour sleep might be due to how sleep is maintained. There is a sleep or awake switch in the brain and also a "maintain the current state" network. To make the shift to awake cleanly, the "maintain current state" system is likely stronger in the morning (on a circadian rhythm, not just "after you wake up") but if you manage to be sleeping at the time it kicks in more strongly it may keep you asleep for hours even without any particular need to be asleep. This isn't necessarily what is actually happening but I think it fits the evidence.

I don't think longer sleep is always worse than the alternative, however I suspect if it feels necessary then it is a sign of a more serious sleep issue and if it doesn't feel necessary then aiming for a regular circadian rhythm with sufficient sleep is a better option.

I would guess at least some of that would be catchup sleep + dehydration from not drinking in 12 hours.

>without an alarm I can sleep 12 hours.

This was the case for me until I started (a) going to bed shortly after dark and (b) leaving the blinds open.

An really incredible thing happened: I started feeling tired around dusk, and awake at dawn.

Note that it's best to avoid/limit screens and LED lights past dark.

Could very well be that you're just leveraging your circadian rhythm coupled with the appropriate sleep stages cycled.

You're likely waking at the optimal time of completion of a complete sleep cycle. That doesn't necessarily mean you're getting enough sleep overall.

I have the same problem. The more I sleep past 7 hours the shittier I feel for roughly the number of overslept hours. If I sleep 12 hours, I'll feel foggy and groggy for 5 hours afterwards (12-7=5). I think it is serotonin related.

I force myself to not sleep more than 7 hours.

It's possible your body is catching up on years of chronic sleep deprivation.

If you can get several weeks of vacation with no alarm, you may find yourself sleeping 10-12 hours a night for a while, but eventually it should decrease.

I used to be like that - until I started my current flexible schedule which allows me to wake up naturally.

Now my body sleeps 8 hours and I wake up the same time every day.

Has anyone managed to break out of this? I've tried increasing exercise, waking up with sunlight; nothing works

I used to have trouble waking up too. What worked for me was having a strict morning routine that I followed the moment I woke up. I found that sleeping 10 or 12 hours wasn't uninterrupted; I'd often wake up briefly in the morning, realize I was very tired, and quickly fall back asleep. Once I had a morning routine, it became my first priority when I woke up to fulfill that routine and would allow me to pull myself out of bed earlier. Typically my routine is to get ready for work Monday through Friday, but this habit of waking up when I've finished sleeping without an alarm also persists through the weekend.

If I stay up later than usual then I'll often wake up at the usual time and just sleep a little less, but sometimes I'll sleep a bit longer. Either way I still feel very tired breaking out of my schedule. I'm also lucky enough to have an employer allows a relatively flexible schedule so I could experiment with this for a while.

A hard cut of caffeine after 10:30 AM, cutting blue light (and screens if possible) after sunset, and if nothing else having a kid can do it.

Or, try camping for a few days. Try not to look at your phone after sunset.

Camping is like an immediate fix for me. You just naturally wake up with the first rays of sunlight.

I think it also helps a lot to move around all day (as one does while camping). I feel so much better.

Or leave the phone at home or at least do not turn it on, unless you need to.

I grew out of it without doing anything in particular

How much is increasing exercise ?

1-2 hours of moderately intense exercise

Do you feel ok if you only sleep 5 hours a night?

Could it be CO2 build-up in your bedroom?

No. Same thing happens if the window is left ajar.

I’ve been doing this for years and it’s wonderful. On the few days I need an alarm (someone schedules something early) I’m usually groggy and in a poor mood. The difference in mood and grogginess is so drastic I can tell when I’m getting sick a week or so before symptoms appear because I’ll wake up an hour late and still feel terrible. It’s eerie how accurate your body can signal things to you when left to its own devices.

As far as the “work hard, play hard” mentality, I’ve chosen to work at startups/companies where I can come into the office flexibly (usually around 10) and it’s worked great.

One final note: I wonder if the rampant depression and suicidal thoughts I had as a teenager, that are now entirely gone, were a product of the fact that I was forced to wake up every day at 6 AM to an alarm. I was such an anti-social, depressed creep it’s terrifying to think we continually subject our children to this sleep-deprivating schedule.

Great moralisms, but most of us have a hard stop from sleep at 7something am to go to work. Others of us have stress issues such that falling asleep isn't easy, and you wake up 'naturally' 45 minutes before the alarm with a mind full of worries.

The whole idea of 'natural' is normative garbage.

Let me guess, you sleep immediately on a plane as soon as doors close, too? We're not all built the same way.

> but most of us have a hard stop from sleep at 7something am to go to work

Well that's a feature of our economy, and a whole other issue. Artifact of the industrial revolution if I'm not mistaken; "8 hrs of sleep, 8 hrs of work, 8hrs of entertainment"; which is obviously a lie and not much more than propaganda, but people seems to put up with it. It doesn't work very well you you add commute time, chores, &c. in the mix.

> Let me guess, you sleep immediately on a plane as soon as doors close, too? We're not all built the same way.

Quite the opposite, I always need 0.5-1 hour to fall asleep, and that's in my pitch black, noise free bedroom. Never slept in a plane, albeit I don't fly very often.

> The whole idea of 'natural' is normative garbage

You do you. Technology evolved much faster than our bodies during the last 200-300 years, our internal cycle still heavily relies on light (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm), now you can chose to ignore that or go with what evolution designed you for. You can brush of "natural" as being a hippie thing if you want, at the end of the day we're all slave to our bodies, better at least try to please it than to force it in "unnatural" processes.

I'm just a regular guy with a regular IT job, of course my experience won't match a factory worker, but if I can help a few people here and there I've done my part.

Artifact of the industrial revolution if I'm not mistaken; "8 hrs of sleep, 8 hrs of work, 8hrs of entertainment"; which is obviously a lie and not much more than propaganda, but people seems to put up with it.

You're not mistaken, just missing the critical detail: it was a demand of the labor movement. An improvement over the nightmare of far longer hours in the early industrial revolution. But we've digressed.

> The whole idea of 'natural' is normative garbage

You do you. Technology evolved much faster than our bodies during the last 200-300 years, our internal cycle still heavily relies on light (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm), now you can chose to ignore that or go with what evolution designed you for. You can brush of "natural" as being a hippie thing if you want, at the end of the day we're all slave to our bodies, better at least try to please it than to force it in "unnatural" processes.

My point was that it's kind of silly to talk about nature or natural in this context. I'm a regular IT guy, too, and unless I abscond to a place where I don't have to work ever again or have full control over my schedule, the moralisms are just salt in the wound. Most people aren't sleeping enough because of work demands and stress, not because they didn't read an article which says obvious things - yeah, we all know about natural light, blue light, screen time and caffeine at this point. What we don't know is how to pay a mortgage and 'go natural' simultaneously.

I'll be honest, all it took me was to learn about it, and I refuse to think that I'm the only one in that position. I used to sit in front of a screen until the very last moment I went to bed, now I read, I go to bed when I'm tired, I avoid alcohol before bed, &c. Look around, in all the companies I went to, 40+ years old people were overweight and had poor posture, that's just the (visible) tip of the iceberg.

A lot of people eat like shit, don't exercise (enough), come back from 8 hours of sitting at a desk to do what ? Sit on a sofa and empty a few beers. After a while, when their body can't "catch up" they feel the effects and wonder what happened.

> But we've digressed.

Yes, too bad HN doesn't really work for longer conversations.

> An improvement over the nightmare of far longer hours in the early industrial revolution. But we've digressed.

Sure, but what is it now ? For most people in 1st world countries it isn't about survival, especially for us, IT workers. Albeit poor people in countries completely rejecting socialism ideas still struggle just as much as 100 years ago. The survival nightmare isn't there anymore. Now we're suffering the blowback of an economy that can't sustain itself without constant growth.

"The necessity of production is so easily proved that any hack philosopher of industrialism can fill ten books with it. Unfortunately for these neo-economist thinkers, these proofs belong to the nineteenth century, a time when the misery of the working classes made the right to work the counterpart of the right to be a slave, claimed at the dawn of time by prisoners about to be massacred. Above all it was a question of surviving, of not disappearing physically. The imperatives of production are the imperatives of survival; from now on, people want to live, not just to survive." - Raoul Vaneigem

> and you wake up 'naturally' 45 minutes before the alarm with a mind full of worries.

I call that my weekend alarm clock. When I was younger I'd stay up late on the weekends and wake up an appropriate 8-10 hours after I fell asleep. Now I can go to bed whenever and still wake up at 6 am to the thought of "Hey, do you think that crack you noticed yesterday is a sign of foundation problems? When do you want to fix that sink? You really need to think about getting the deck replaced."

> Take two weeks off, avoid alcohol and other stimulant, avoid artificial light after 8 and wake up without an alarm. You'll see how you feel after that regimen

I do this once a year for one month for general health purposes.

I am no less groggy in the morning. (No alarm means I wake up at 4AM or after 11 hours.) I am no more energetic. I sleep about the same number of hours as I did otherwise. Generally speaking, I noticed no physiological changes other than (a) craving sugar and (b) losing weight (due to cutting out alcohol and related foods).

(Granted, I haven't been chronically sleep deprived for years.)

> I am no less groggy in the morning. (No alarm means I wake up at 4AM or after 11 hours.) I am no more energetic. I sleep about the same number of hours as I did otherwise. Generally speaking, I noticed no physiological changes other than (a) craving sugar and (b) losing weight (due to cutting out alcohol and related foods).

For what it's worth, I have the same anecdote. I don't see any dramatic difference. Same with avoiding caffeine and I normally drink a lot of tea and coffee.

If you haven't been chronically sleep deprived and haven't been using a caffeine/alcohol cycle to support that life style, why would you expect to see effects the parent said you would see?

You're at the baseline they were already talking about.

> haven't been using a caffeine/alcohol cycle to support that life style

I'm frequently acutely sleep deprived. (Which is relevant within the context of a "catch-up sleep" article.) And while I don't use alcohol and caffeine to support my sleep cycle, I certainly take each frequently.

Cutting them out had no dramatic effect on my sleep quality. TL; DR Results from cutting out alcohol and caffeine may vary, and not everyone's body knows how much sleep it needs.

I have found that if I just let my body sleep as much as it wants to I sleep 9-10hrs and I feel groggy and hung over (presumably dehydrated) for a long time after I wake up. I have tried dropping stimulants, all that kind of thing, and have tried it for weeks. It does not right itself.

What has worked the best for me is having an alarm for 7am, 6-7 days as week. If I am having heaps of trouble sleeping I'll disable it and maybe sleep 1hr more, but in general I keep is consistent, and when I wake up it takes me a much shorter time to feel human again.

I'm afraid that this suggestion is a bit glib and simplistic: there are people (my S.O. being one of them) who despite no alcohol, no artificial light after dinner and all doing "all the right things" still can't fall asleep before 2-3am, which then leads to 4- or 5-hour nights all week long. For them, catching up on the weekend is the only solution (albeit an imperfect one).

indeed many people are biologically wired to be "night owls"; it's a well established individual difference in the psychology literature:


I think we all agree that these people are the exception to the rule. Just like Elon Musk isn't your typical CEO or Terry A. Davis isn't your typical developer.

Rest in peace Terry Davis, the world wasn't ready for TempleOS.

Are they exercising?

You need activity/exercise for good sleep.

Yes they are (2x as much as me), and no you don't.

> Take two weeks off, avoid alcohol and other stimulant, avoid artificial light after 8 and wake up without an alarm. You'll see how you feel after that regimen. Your body knows exactly how much sleep it needs.

Is that due to the sleep, or the lack of work and general de-stressing?

  avoid artificial light after 8
To follow this advice in my location (sunset today 6pm) should I be going to bed at 8pm? Or should I be trying to read by moonlight or something?

Haven’t heard of blue light blocker glasses. My wife and I put in red led bulbs for our nightstand lights and read paper books or magazines for about a half hour before going to sleep. I also do legs up the wall for about 10 minutes right before going to sleep and that really helps me.

How does red light help sleep? I googled just now, saw some stuff, but interested to see what you think or know.

more red signals sunset to the brain. Read in the HN comments that bunks in the navy are equipped with red lights so one person can read without disturbing the sleep of others.

Thanks, and will check those comments.

The glasses are about ten bucks on Amazon. I use a pair, but I found that dimming the lights is also important.

I think regularly indoor lighting while reading is fine, it is screens that become the real problem. So many people I know lay in bed reading their phone.

i dont think a kindle counts as artificial light, could be wrong though.

It does and using it in a dark room is worse than having background light. Fully avoiding artificial light after 8 is quite difficult but limiting blue light and bright light is easier.

Candles are nice. But anything is better, than ordinary LED light..

Can confirm, found ~2 beeswax candles (dunno if other materials are different brightness) is perfect for reading and getting about the house. I've been looking for a < 5 candle power battery incandescent-bulb lamp, but haven't found one. May have to build it. Candles are expensive (unless you get the stinky petroleum ones), inconvenient[0], and a bit of a fire hazard.

Once you get used to a couple candles carried (per person) and maybe one in the room for general illumination—which only took me a couple days—electrical multi-room illumination at night seems irritatingly bright and kinda insane. Sort of like when you cut out soda and then try one after a while and are put off by how cloyingly sweet it is.

[0] I wouldn't do it again without a shaded candle holder, for instance, otherwise you end up looking at them by accident all the time which is painful when your eyes are adjusted for low light. Would probably need to bump up to three candles to account for the shade.

I found red LEDs with USB power (so <2.5W) to be pretty good. They are available for decorative purposes.

Since I haven't replaced my Kindle I do all my reading with a dim red headlamp. I like it better than the paperwhite blue-white light and wish Amazon offered a red light Kindle.

Get blue light blocker glasses and it'll help a lot. Avoid backlit devices as they're the worst.

You don't have to go to bed at 8, just don't stay in bright light at least a few hours before you want to fall asleep.

This is exactly why I love to rent a sail for for a 1 wk holidays. This is relaxing by design : on a sail boat, you "live with the sun", there is no wifi, no 4G, you have to save your electricity...

Hey I've always wanted to do this. Any suggestions?

It's also not compatible with small children.

I think the research behind this news is quite weak: only 9 days and not that many participants (18 men and 18 women).

Please support your argument with numbers. 36 participants can be plenty or can be absolutely insignificant. My partner is just in the process of getting subjects for an experiment and she's trying to estimate the required number of participants. In their case 30 participants would make the experiment useless, 40-42 would make it very powerful (significant).

You can't judge the weakness of an experiment just based on the number of participants. Your comment might mislead others with not enough knowledge of stats I think.

The fourth paragraph of the article links to an article titled, "Sleeping in on the weekends can compensate for lack of sleep during the week, study suggests." (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2...)

That study tracked 38,000 people over 13 years. "People who slept for fewer than the recommended seven hours each weekday, but caught an extra hour or two on weekends, lived just as long as people who always slept seven hours, the authors reported."

36 participants is reasonable for showing some effects, and it is easy for people who've just internalized "small samples bad" to underestimate that. I'm glad you raised the point, especially since ignoring it tends to push people to respect very large studies - even when those studies use self-report on famously unreliable topics like weight and sleep.

I still find it worrying here because we know there's substantial variance in how/when people sleep, and 36 is well below "representative sample" numbers. More generally, a 36 participant, 2 week study ought to be examined pretty carefully when it contradicts a study (Akerstedt et al) on 38,000 subjects over 13 years. I can hardly blame the authors for that, though; small lab confirmations of large self-report studies are a useful and established practice.

But I don't think that's the damning part. The 9 night study span is incredibly worrying for trying to assess a long-term effect. If a value shifts over that span, is it rising steadily, rising to a new equilibrium, or reacting to a change and then returning to homeostasis?

(I do want to give credit to the study for using pre-experiment substance/diet/sleep control, and then applying individual sleep times to avoid "night owls" being a confounder. Seeing studies judge "sleep time" by making all subjects go to bed at the same hour is infuriating.)

Finally, there's strong evidence that something was unusual about study conditions. The WaPo article claims that the weekend sleepers "gained nearly three pounds over two weeks", but that's pretty much journalistic malpractice. The study actually found that all patients in the study gained weight; more weight with higher confidence for the low-sleep groups, but the groups had heavy overlap in amount gained. We can be confident that two weeks of work-schedule sleep do not cause that sort of weight gain for most people, since the reduction to the absurd there is everyone gaining ~70 lb/year indefinitely. It's the sort of number which raises pretty significant questions about how this compares to anything outside the lab setting.

This is an important counterargument. Effect size absolutely matters.

For that matter, very small studies are safer from certain types of false positive.

The file-drawer problem with small lab studies is serious, and can't be solved with effect sizes; it's much easier to run a few of these and publish the hits than to do that with large-population studies.

But small lab studies provide a lot of value alongside population studies. They help reveal issues with bad self-report data, which are major concerns for sleep and weight questions. They also offer an efficient way to replicate and extend large studies. If you're spending a decade with 10k+ subjects, gathering a huge range of data is understandable (and I would argue, preferable). But it leaves you with a choice between salami slicing across all your variables, or applying multiple-comparisons corrections that destroy your sensitivity. Using large multi-factor studies as exploratory work, then validating effects with small focused studies is actually a pretty healthy outcome.

A final thought: I have a lot of problems with this study, but file-drawer issues aren't one of them. Looking at a bunch of correlated variables (insulin sensitivity, weight gain, outside-meal eating, etc) and reporting them all is a solid way to mitigate that - we know those things should correlate for basically any real effect, which makes it much harder to stumble into a false positive and publish.

Academia has had their chance. No one believes "studies" about personal life choices any more if the results conflict with each other every 5 years.

It's just publication pressure (or worse, as other commenters have hinted at).

> Academia has had their chance.

You can't say that. (Ok, of course everyone has the right to her opinions.) The point of the scientific method is that it is, in many ways, self-correcting. It's getting addressed, albeit slowly. It will be counterproductive for all of us if we simply dismiss all results we're not comfortable with that it's only publication pressure.

I mean -- you can say that personally, and it probably makes sense, but as a society we need to get social sciences and medicine into a better shape instead of just 'letting it go'.

You're placing the blame in the wrong places, lumping in the above-board journals for the actions of those who aren't. If you want to blame someone, blame the trashier elements of our media, who jump all over the constant back and forth "studies" published in pay-to-play junk journals as if they're handed down from a great deity on stone tablets.

> Academia has had their chance

Oh, so what should we go to now in order to try to expand our knowledge about this? What are you suggesting?

This is always the implicit question, and I'm guessing the answer is scientism -- material that has the form of academic product, but isn't academic. Like Jordon Peterson videos or a lot of the scientific racism stuff on Youtube.

It's draped in the language of knowing, but it's purely emotional material; stuff that makes you feel good, and makes you feel smart for feeling right.

(I also think the desire to drape our tribal impulses in scientific form comes from society prizing smarts for so very, very long, but that's another story.)

Jordan Peterson is as scientific as a social scientist gets. He cites papers and describes the work of past scientists and his premises are evidence driven. He is a professor; a professional academic.

He has his opinions, positions and motives just like anyone else, but is open about them. If anything he is a rock star lecturer that exemplifies how informative, accurate, sincere, progressive, intimate, and inspiring science can be. He helps people for a living as a psychologist and a lecturer. If he offends you then you either have issues or don't understand him or both, but he would gladly engage with you either way.

Most that disagree with him disagree with the science, which puts them in the same boat as climate change deniers, of which there are plenty voicing their alternate facts online. But their voice doesn't validate their claims. Science is not a democracy.

The effusive praise bordering on reverence of Peterson always strikes me a bit strange. He is an exemplary rock star lecturer-scientist and if you aren't on Team Peterson you've got issues or you misunderstand or if you disagree with him you probably are pretty much a science denialist. A bit excessive, no?

Excessive maybe, but not false, and only to counter his blatant miscategorization to which I was responding. I underestimated the support for JDP here, which is my bad but I am happy to defend him. My mother is an anthropologist. The social sciences are flawed in many ways but JDP fully acknowledges and navigates this. If anyone has better ideas or conclusions than he does please share. He wants to know. We all want to know. But if there is one thing a man answering his calling deserves is respect.

Is it really about his work, or is it about glorifying Peterson himself?

For other's it may be, but I was responding to a blatant miscategorization which was attacking his identity, not his work. And this is just how I write.

If dissing someone is allowed then why isn't praising them? And praising them well?

Because I exaggerated?

But did I?

He continues to help millions of people. Can't say that about many people.

Regarding his work/words: He's right about the biological differences between men and women. He's right about social hierarchies and power structures being inevitable. He's right about the government's overreach on speech being dangerous. He's right about proper discourse on any matter being uncomfortable. He's right about the value of honesty and integrity. He's right about ways to piece your life and yourself back together.

And by right I don't mean binary true or false, because that isn't how science works. By right, I mean the most accurate knowledge we currently have on the topic that could be usefully applied to a problem at hand compared to other less accurate knowledge that is already being applied to problems at hand. Seeing this is why he stood up, and many stood up with him.

You can't be a quack and help so many people or be right about so many things. And at the end of the day he's just a lecturer that's really really good at his job -- at engaging his students and sharing the wealth of knowledge that already exists. And yes, using that knowledge to point out why you are wrong does make him offensive to a lot of people. You don't have to be one of them. And yes, he has turned activist. You don't have to turn into one, by why not? But if you have, then why against?

He isn't anti-scientific. He just isn't. That's a blatantly false claim.

> If he offends you then you either have issues or don't understand him or both, but he would gladly engage with you either way.

Hmmm no we can also think he uses mostly weak papers with dodgy methodologies and over-generalizes the conclusions. Not all scientists within a field agree with any given scientist of that field, that would be ludicrous.

How do you know he uses mostly weak papers? That is an overgeneralization. And why would he? Which papers should he have chosen?

And I never said all scientists agree. Typical straw man. But what I will say is there are plenty of climate change deniers that claim to be scientists.

You literally said if he offends me I have issues or don't understand him. This disregards the notion that you can understand someone as a fellow scientist and be offended by their indefensible interpretations. Sorry but it's not all black or white, and you describing the issue as such makes you more of a zealot than a scientist.

Why would you be offended by the science of a scientist? Let alone their opinion? Why does he offend you so much? I would put this person in the "has issues" category. Not saying that is bad. But it doesn't make you right. Instead, we should focus on the issue. What about what offends you so much? Btw there are plenty of videos of him confronting exactly this.

Nothing is indefensible. Challenge him all you want.

His views are his views. Most of his lectures are about other people's work. When he draws conclusions his logic is sound and his premises are transparent. Talk, think, debate.

Why hate? He continues to help so many people.

If he is such a stellar scientist, I'm sure there are quite a few other scientists building off his work -- I'm sure he's advancing some fields of study, if he is as sharp as you say.

Is there a list of people building on the work of Jordan Peterson? I'd like to see it.


See it. You could have just Google it.

You did look at that list carefully, right?

He's listed as first author on three of the first 20 entries, and one of those is a pop-sci book, not an academic paper. Of the other two, one is from 17 years ago and the other is from 29 years ago.

This is not the publication record of an influential social scientist.

Well, actually this is the publication record of an influential social scientist. JDP is the most influential social scientist of our times, bar none. This is his publication record. That makes this the publication record of an influential social scientist. Does that offend you?

Knocking him for collaborating is ignorant and disingenuous. Scientists collaborate. His record shows he is a real scientist. It doesn't have to show he is the best or that he deserves a Nobel Prize. At this point, he's probably a better candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize if anything, but this only goes to show what he's been working on lately, which is more activism than scientific research. More Neil deGrasse Tyson than Einstein, but that doesn't make Neil a fake scientist.

JDP's last book he did write for a broader audience. Great move. Even I read it. And he brought with him the scientists and the research that otherwise would not have reached his audience.

His book is maybe 75% work of other scientists, 20% story telling, and 5% what he draws from it. Basically his 12 rules. He demonstrates how to draw meaning and meaningful conclusions rationally, with well grounded premises. If you have low tolerance for the more abstract genre of ancient story analysis, then skip it. Or maybe there is some truth to it? Decide for yourself.

Did you read his book? Fine if you didn't but I wouldn't claim to understand him if I hadn't. Maybe you have issues with him, which is fine, but again, that is a separate matter than the substance of his lectures. Which are all highly specific by the way. So to say they're all based on weak papers or that he's selling snake oil is an immediate tell that, again, you either don't understand him or have other issues/motives.

(Thanks HN for not letting me reply, claiming I'm posting too fast, when clearly I'm not. Not sure how you're suppose to have a conversation.)

To spare others the work of digging, the highest-cited paper where Jordon Peterson is listed as first author is the 1990 paper, "Acute alcohol intoxication and cognitive functioning," at 321 citations.

Important work, I'm sure, but not what I'd call groundbreaking; I think the effects of drinking on cognition have been somewhat well-known, at least anecdotally, for at least a few thousand years, give or take.

How about defunding the fields that study "personal life choices"? The quoted part seems to have been missed by the lynch mob.

Let's try the Eleatics next, or any of the other presocratics.

This needs to be top comment. Society's tolerance for bombastic 'journalistic' claims with no consequences is the source of so much of our present issues.

Conclusions are cheap.

>is the source of so much of our present issues.

Citation needed. Because hyperbole is no different in meta.

The replication problem has been well documented, at least for the social sciences. A cursory search for “replication crisis” will yield many results. For example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis

The replication crisis is a problem, but it is almost certainly not the main source of societies ills.

>Because hyperbole is no different in meta

Citation need... Oh wait, this is discussion, not an academic paper.

> Oh wait, this is discussion, not an academic paper.

It's literally an academic discussion insofar as it's about the technicalities of an academic paper.

So yes, you really do need to support your arguments if you want them to be taken seriously.

I've seen people say this a few times, and I think it is attacking a misreading of the comment (snarkily, to boot). Charitable interpretation: In a discussion, if someone says "Citation needed", it means "I'm skeptical and I'm asking for a citation" (which is quite reasonable), not "You should have supplied a citation before I asked for it" (which I would agree is unreasonable for statements one doesn't expect to be contentious).

> ...source of so much of our present issues.

and past issues.

"9 days" really undersells that this is a study about the effect of weekends on sleep and they only tested one weekend.

Yeah, I haven’t read the article and after seeing this there is really no point. If one data point is what it gets to publish a study...

I also take issue with how the article mentions that sleep is not a balance sheet, but doesn't really lay out that this was explicitly tested.

They said the participants slept only five hours a night for weekdays. 8 hours is the generally recommended amount for a good nights sleep, so to truly bring balance to that schedule, they'd have a 15 hour sleep-debt to make up on the weekends, in addition to the full 8 hours they'd need to sleep those two weekend days on their own. I seriously doubt the participants were able to sleep 16 hours on both friday and saturday night to fully pay the sleep debt even at their level of sleep deprivation, so I don't think you can really say the "balance sheet" approach is wrong.

I'm not necessarily saying I support a balance sheet view of sleep, I just think these kinds of articles are not very careful with the kind of wording they use. Also maybe I'm just living under a rock, but I don't feel like its that common to only get 5 hours of sleep every single weekday unless you're like a single parent with a baby (in which case you probably wouldn't magically get 8 hours on the weekend), I'd be more interested to see what happens if this was done in smaller spurts, like two consecutive days with three or four hours of sleep to emulate some work or school deadline approaching, but then 8 or 9 the rest of the week after its complete. As it stands now, the title of the article comes off as click bait because its a pretty fear-mongering conclusion drawn from what I consider to be pretty extreme circumstances.

> They said the participants slept only five hours a night for weekdays. 8 hours is the generally recommended amount for a good nights sleep, so to truly bring balance to that schedule, they'd have a 15 hour sleep-debt to make up on the weekends, in addition to the full 8 hours they'd need to sleep those two weekend days on their own. I seriously doubt the participants were able to sleep 16 hours on both friday and saturday night to fully pay the sleep debt even at their level of sleep deprivation, so I don't think you can really say the "balance sheet" approach is wrong.

Well, if you take a reference of 7 hours instead of 8, it is more possible. That's kind of what I was doing when I was in high-school: sleeping 5 hours or under on week days, so a total of about 24-25 hours over 5 days; and then sleeping 12 hours or more on week-end nights. So I was sleeping as much in those 2 days, as I was in the other 5, for a total of about 50 hours / week, which is around 7 hours per day on average.

Note that I do not recommend this rhythm! Periodically during those years, I suffered from awful 3- to 5-days long periods during which I was... I don't know how to explain, like if there was a cotton wall between the world and me, I had no control over anything, everything was happening automatically, I had kind of visions of stuff that would happen not matter what I'd do, etc. I guess all of this was caused by sleep deprivation. Gee, I don't miss those periods... luckily it stopped after high-school.

But all my life, I have had huge difficulties to fall asleep at night, and also suffered from stress, which doesn't combine well with the necessities of school times, work times, and other mandatory times: I generally managed to sleep earlier when there was no need to wake up early... If I ever need to wake up at 5 or 4 AM, I won't even manage to get any sleep (or 45 minutes with 10 sweaty 180 heartbeats per minute wake-up inside).

>18 men and 18 women

This very much depends on statistical power. If the effect size is big enough, 36 participants can be plenty.

I suspect the effect sizes of sleep deprivation are probably quite large.

I wanted to ask whether this is a serious claim or one of those "might alter the risk" articles.

Seems it even worse. Thanks for sparing many people's time with your comment.

I don't think you can dismiss a scientific article without arguments. Please prove your points.

A 9 day study includes only one weekend. In a study about weekends. One data point is never enough to make any inferences.

It depends what you are trying to prove. To prove that catchup sleep doesn't work, you need to find at which weekend it stops working. If it's the first week end, you don't need to iterate, as the person's condition will only get worse.

> If it's the first week end, you don't need to iterate, as the person's condition will only get worse.

Then you let your subjects rest up and repeat it again another few times, to make sure that its repeatable and not a coincidence.

A recent Swedish study[1] following 43 880 people over 13 years mentions in the summary: "Possibly, long weekend sleep may compensate for short weekday sleep."

[1]: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jsr.12712

Wow, what a contrast to this study of 36 people. Personally I feel that it's a bunch of placebo but a bunch of people I know swear by it.

Nevertheless it's much harder to convince people to do what's more efficient compared to what _feels_ better when it comes to sleep. I for one feel much better if I wake up 7am sharp every day but it doesn't not feel that way naturally.

It's not necessarily a placebo though right? I think 'catch-up' just isn't very well defined.

I can be short of sleep and feeling awful each day of the working week, and then sleep in at the weekend and feel good that day relative to the last five.

Have I 'caught-up'? Or does catching up mean negating long-term side-effects of sleep deprivation?

> Have I 'caught-up'? Or does catching up mean negating long-term side-effects of sleep deprivation?

This is the issue, and it's why the person who titled this article ought to be ashamed.

We know sleep-deprived people sleep extra if you let them, in amounts predicted by their sleep deprivation. We know the recovery sleep produces better results on a bunch of metrics than getting ~8 hours without extra recovery time. We also know that they don't make up lost sleep hours one-to-one; they add a few hours over a few days then return to baseline, and the fraction recovered declines as the amount of deprivation rises. So.. what does all of that mean?

I know my athletic performance responds to recovery sleep; I've seen studies saying cognitive performance does too. Does insulin sensitivity recover fully? (The author's past work finds "sorta".) Does that recovery provide a better baseline when deprivation starts again, or does it just shift to a new target level regardless? (This implies it just moves to the lower level.) How about the same two questions for memory? For muscle and aerobic exercise? And then: does time with recovered functioning correct long-term damage, mitigate it, or just stop worsening it? Is the short-term "elevated amyloid plaque levels" result actually tied to Alzheimer's, or do they just share a mechanism?

Summarizing a one-weekend insulin sensitivity result as though it settles 50 different questions sharing a broad label is ridiculous.

I highly recommend reading Matthew Walker‘s Why We Sleep [0] where stuff like the above mentioned is summed up. Great read! [0] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34466963

Currently about two thirds through this. I agree that it's a great read, quite fascinating actually. Interestingly, he's conducted similar tests measuring a whole range of properties including; response, recovery, memory, health on hundreds of people and he draws the same conclusion as the article. It's certainly made me more aware of my own sleep habits. Highly recommended reading.

Still waiting for an answer from Matthew Walker on his contrasting view from William Dement about Sleep Debt being unable to be paid back.



I loved the book, but I know so many functional adults living their entire life underslept, that I think it must miss compensating mechanisms.

I like this book, but not a lot of practica advice. A good compendium is The Sleep Solution by Chris Winter.

When I first had a kid, it was living hell. I mean, it was wonderful, and joyful (really, I'm not kidding) but waking up 5 times a night with a screaming 2 month old was effing brutal. I wore a 50 yard stare all the time, my colleagues tell me.

Now, though, with an 18 month old I do a lot better - maybe even better than before having her. She still wakes up early (6:30 AM or so) BUT now that I know I absolutely, positively, HAVE to get to bed at a decent hour, I go to bed before 10 PM most nights - 9:30 or even 9:00 is not rare (and I find myself considering it a luxury). I used to know that I _should_ get to bed by 11:00 PM or so but often pushed it to 12:00 or 1:00 (mind you in college I tried to get to bed by 4 AM as a rule - I like night).

I wake up before her even some mornings, and we have a couple hours of daddy-daughter time. We even watched the sun rise in winter; it's nice.

But before her I HATED getting up early.

It's really hard to explain to people just how effing brutal it can be for the first several years. Sleep is so random and uneven, it can really break a parent. I have a theory that people have evolved to forget just how bad the first years are, and that's the only reason people have more than one kid, because if we did really remember it all, we'd have all have serious Post Baby Trauma Disorder and no one would ever have more than one kid. You're right, it's just effing brutal.

Having two kids was the worst. Twice as many, still a noob parent. Poor kids, poor mum and dad. I mean we were nice to them but always exhausted.

Was lucky. Got some good advice. Listened to it. Kids and parents are more happy now.

We now have more than three and it is still way less stressful.

What was the advice?

Until they are one year old they decide.

Around one year they can learn to sleep well.

Every parent that kids needs to learn to eat and drink from cups.

I also understood and enjoyed helping my oldest daughter learn to walk.

But for some reason it never occured to me that sleeping is something that many kids will need to learn.

The basic rules are simple.

Part 1: make sure the environment don't change while they are asleep

After a certain age:

- never let them fall asleep with a bottle

- or while you are singing or saying prayers

- or listening to music

- or watching tv

Do read stories, sing, play and try to make sure they are happy when they go to bed. Just make sure they are awake.

Basically they shouldn't fall asleep in a state they won't be in the next time they turn around furing sleep.

Kids after a certain age should fall asleep in their own bed and on their own.

Part 2:

Kids should not be afraid and cry themselves to sleep.

But if you just leave them alone in their bed they will.

Instead say some magic nice words that you decide, then walk out. Start a timer for one minute. Walk back in (even if the kid isn't crying) say the same words you said when you left. The rest of of the night until the kid fall asleep (i.e. not until the calm down) go back every 3rd minute, i.e. every 180 seconds, sharp. Use a timer. Say the same words.

The next day use 3 minutes first and 5 minutes the rest of the evening. Use a timer. Be consequent.

What you want to teach is you are going to be there for them either they cry or not.

Don't stop until after they are asleep. (I happily go back two times more and I don't care if it seems they are sleeping, if tjey open their eyes they'll close them just as fast, now convinced that you are still there.) If one stop going back when they calm down then they understand they'll have to cry to get attention.

Next day 5 and 7 minutes, then 7 and 9 etc. By now they are probably relaxing after a few minutes.

Except for my first who had already gotten a bad habit by the time I started teaching, the rest picked it up in 3 or 4 days. After that they'd enjoy going to bed.

Two more things;

- make sure somebody can hear them if they wake up in the night. Mostly because who wants their kid to be afraid, but a nive side effect is they learn that thet are not forgotten.

- do sleep training on good days (not when new teeths are arriving or while they have the cold)

> Kids should not be afraid and cry themselves to sleep.

> But if you just leave them alone in their bed they will.

Worked for us 3x. Did it soon after they no longer physically needed to eat in the night, which is a lot earlier than you'd think. Did it around 3 months IIRC. Two or three bad nights with each one (listening to the crying is no fun and I get why people cave) and pretty much smooth sailing from there on.

We did do some prep by deliberately delaying our responses to their crying, especially at night time, weeks earlier, and stretching out that delay as weeks went on, to break the "I cry, they show up seconds later, spazzing out and showering me with attention" expectation. We might have had to prep by pushing them to one nighttime feeding too, but they'd done that on their own by then anyway—then again, delaying responses helps with that since you're not rushing in there every time they whimper, so that may have been why that part happened "naturally".

Huh, I thought the person you're responding to explicitly advised the opposite? I.e. - don't cry it out?

We live in a flat with poor soundproofing and out of a desire not to make our neighbours miserable (especially the nurse who really needs a good night's sleep after a long shift..) we've tried to minimize night crying. She sleeps pretty well now.

Oof, you're right, I totally misread that.

We were fortunate enough to be in detached housing. If we'd still not been consistently getting full nights of sleep until almost a year after our first one was born (as in the post I initially responded to, I gather) we definitely wouldn't have had two more. Yikes. Our total months of disrupted sleep for all three combined isn't that long.

My favorite thing as a parent is telling other parents that kids are a joy.

They are (after the first 10 months are over). But for that first 6-10 months, oh sweet fuck is it miserable. I honestly don't remember anything from that time period other than exhaustion. And you can see it on new parents faces. That blank, almost ptsd stare.

It's hilarious.

It's a good thing we are genetically programmed to find young babies the most adorable things in the world, especially our own, no matter how loud, wrinkly or poop-producing they are. Without it, babies would never survive.

By the time the cuteness starts to wear off, the worst is over. Well, they don't listen, disobey everything, and supposedly puberty is going to be even worse, but at least you can play boardgames with them. Played X-wing with my 9 year old yesterday. That makes the 9 year investment worth it.

Same experience here. I felt like a dead man walking when my kiddo was born. Absolutely lifeless and ready to die. These days he is 18mo and acts as my alarm clock. Every day 6:20 sharp. Not a minute early, not a minute late. I am quite amazed actually.

I still go to bed late at times and absolutely regret it the next morning. On days when I go to bed before 10, I feel amazing - totally refreshed, happy, physically well and ready to go. On days I go to bed past 11:30 or closer to 12 - 12:30, I feel like total shit. Waking up hurts. My body aches so much and brain asleep most of the day. My eyes are closing and I cannot focus. Those days are usually the ones where my kiddo is most taxing on me, as if he knows dad feels like shit so why not make him wish he were dead.

Sleep is so damn important. Don’t skip it. I probably shaved 5-10 years of my life already.

There was a doc on Joe Rogan show talking all about sleep - so eye opening, highly recommend looking for that interview if you’d rather listen than read.

That is so true how it changes when you KNOW you will be up at a certain hour... I can't ignore my son as easily as I could ignore my dog if it is up too early!

I have the opposite problem though my son is already a night owl and keeps finding excuses to come back to our room and tell us random things!

This seems to contradict a recent study that I came across [1]:

The mortality rate among participants with short sleep during weekdays, but long sleep during weekends, did not differ from the rate of the reference group. Among individuals ≥65 years old, no association between weekend sleep or weekday/weekend sleep durations and mortality was observed. In conclusion, short, but not long, weekend sleep was associated with an increased mortality in subjects <65 years. In the same age group, short sleep (or long sleep) on both weekdays and weekend showed increased mortality. Possibly, long week- end sleep may compensate for short weekday sleep.

[1] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jsr.12712

I can’t speak for scientific analysis, but I can say that if I have had a disrupted week of sleep, a weekend catch up ‘resets’ me and serves its intended purpose (for me)

Can comp this. I tend to sleep very badly during the week at times and Saturday is a catch-up day for me, when I usually sleep well into the afternoon.

Having a chance to "reset" during the weekend helps me more mentally than it might help physically. Deep sleep has been described to work as a scrubber of sorts, so longer periods of deep sleep should help with scrubbing all that mental cruft away.

Plus just being able to relax goes a long way, knowing you have to be somewhere by certain time always puts some weight on you that can negatively impact your sleep.

While it may feel this way, the science strongly indicates this is not the case. The study in the linked article is one proof point. Many others are summarized in Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep”.

His experience is perfectly in line with the results of the study:

> weekend recovery sleep had some benefits after a single week of insufficient sleep

Just like 'ferros' described, if you have a single occasional week of limited sleep, making it up on the weekends DOES have benefits. The problem starts when you repeatedly sleep an inadequate number of hours during the week.

I think that description is upside down: being sleep deprived during the week causes a large number of problems and sleeping extra on weekends doesn't have benefits, rather it mitigates some of the problems caused by the sleep deprivation. You don't get any benefits over someone who sleeps all they need during the week.

The "science" in the linked WaPo article, and the science from the journal, weakly indicate that if you get 5 hours of sleep each night for an entire work week you will get fat, and sleeping in for an extra hour on the weekend won't stop you getting even more fat when you do the same thing on Monday and Tuesday.

This has almost nothing to do with what ferros said. No, resting on the weekend won't uneat or burn the extra calories, in the same way that it won't rewrite all your bad code or help your fuzzy memory, but it could very well help you perform at a more normal level the next week.

How does sleeping less make you fat? Eating more will make you fat, eating less will make you less fat. If you sleep less you have more time to eat more, but that still requires the eating to happen.

Sleep deprivation causes overeating.

Towards the end of the book The Hungry Brain, by Guyenet, there's a reference to research where both the sleep deprived group and the control group are let loose in the city and allowed to eat whatever they wanted, conditioned on letting the researchers weight and classify it first.

On average, the sleep deprived group ate around 300 calories more.

(sorry I can't produce the original reference, I don't have the book with me)

From my understanding on this topic, the problem has more to do with insulin sensitivity. It has been measured that insulin sensitivity is worse the day after a poor night's sleep and insulin resistance can help drive fat accumulation, all other things being equal.

Sleep deprivation makes you hungrier, increases your appetite and cravings, gives you headaches and makes you feel miserable if you don't eat more.

The mechanism that drives this are the hormones ghrelin and leptin. Look up their action if you're interested.

"Calories in" is only part of the equation. Sleep metabolism is different from waking metabolism.

Also, to your point, very few people spend their sleeping hours eating. You could eat 1500 calories for every meal and be very lithe - if you slept 23 hours a day. By contrast, it seems anecdotally that people who get less sleep tend to eat more food and more of it is unhealthy: late night Taco Bell, delivery when you're pulling an all-nighter, etc.

Best diet pill on the market? Unisom.

> You could eat 1500 calories for every meal and be very lithe - if you slept 23 hours a day.

Not sure if this statement is sound, for the average person.

If you ate 4500 per day, spread across 3, 20 minute meals, and spent the remaining 23 hours sleeping... your energy expenditure would be minimal, whilst your energy intake large. The average person would gain weight rapidly. (300lb athletes perhaps not, but these are outliers).

But if it "feels that way", doesnt that have something to say as well?

In the absence of any actual evidence? Generally we take self-reported feelings as not especially strong evidence.

Maybe all it says is they grew up thinking that "weekend sleeping helped catch-up" and now they only remember the confirming evidence and discard the disconfirming evidence to support their confirmation bias?

I think the actual evidence, for the OP, is that he/she feels better. I don't think it matters if no one else feels better. OP isn't making a scientific claim other than they feel better after a weekend of sleep.

I have a friend who deeply believes that he can drink unlimited amounts of beer and not get drunk. He will drive his car home after drinking 10 beers.

Should his feelings count as evidence in any meaningful sense?

Or do we generally assume that his feelings -- especially since they are contrary to science -- are not a good guide to what really happens?

Self-reported statements (about how someone feels) are good evidence for how they feel. In your example, if the claim is that your friend believes he is not drunk, then his experience still carries more weight (is a more reliable indicator of his beliefs) than most studies.

This is different from the question of whether he is actually sober, of course. But the post you're replying to is specifically about the claim that X person feels better, not about any physical effects on their body. I'd rather trust a person about how they say they feel (especially at a given moment), than studies trying to determine how most people probably feel or ought to feel in a similar situation.

And remember that spinach has a lot of iron, butter is good for you in 1940, bad for you in 1970, good for you in 2010.

Margarine is good for you in 1970, bad for you in 2010.

Good luck.

Wait, what? Why would self-reported feelings not be taken as strong evidence? It seems to me like self-reported feelings are great evidence, and need particularly strong evidence (e.g. evidence of long-term damage that isn’t felt in the short term, like for smoking cigarettes) to contradict.

> Wait, what? Why would self-reported feelings not be taken as strong evidence?

Because you might be stuck in a local maxima that's close to your global minima. I've been reading "Why We Sleep", and while I don't have the citations here at the moment he mentions that one of the tricky things with sleep deprivation is that people are often not very aware of it themselves. Your body gets used to the new, lower, level and thinks that it's normal.

It should also be mentioned that most people don't try to distinguish between correlation and causation, and as such it can be hard to draw any conclusions. Imagine a person who reports that "I'm so happy when I drink alcohol", but it turns out that he has no social contact (e.g. working at night, sleeping through the day; no friends) outside of the bar setting, and it's actually the social element that he most desires.

I guess it depends on what you mean by the word "evidence", but I wouldn't really say that his self-reported feelings show any strong evidence that alcohol makes him happy.

[0] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34466963-why-we-sleep

Because we're really good at fooling ourselves, and we lie to present an idealised version of ourselves.

Example: [Apparently] having coffee in the morning doesn't wake you up, it's that caffeine dependency (and maybe a little dehydration) makes you feel terrible. Coffee temporarily reverse this negative [local maxima].

Coffee appears to wake you up, but it's doing the opposite.

There are many common examples - 'drinking doesn't affect my driving', 'I don't drink heavily', 'advertising doesn't affect me', 'I get enough exercise', 'my diet is healthy', 'I go to church regularly'.

Reports here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5639921/#!po=7...., for example, have measured overreporting of exercise/church attendance at double.

Except a lot of studies and protocols do rely on self-assessment of conditions.

Pain scores, Depression scores are the ones I remember right now

So yes, it is something that's used because you don't have a way of directly measuring all things

In the ends its about how you feel, your well being. Right?

The important thing to keep in mind there is that it doesn't much matter what the science tells you: It makes you feel better and it costs you almost nothing. That makes it a valuable pursuit even if we couldn't find evidence for it working (though another post in this chain mentions some evidence that it does work for a single week).

When sleeping more shortens my waking life, I really want to know how important it is.

If your waking life feels like shit when you don't sleep an hour more, I don't know what more incentive you need to sleep an hour more (given that you are free to do so).

That's a very important question that should be answered, but your implicit assumption that sleeping shortens waking life should at least be verified. It looks like chronic lack of sleep shortens life expectancy.

No, because it's not predictive. Thousands of things could cause that feeling, there's no telling it's the catch up sleep.

The point is you can't do anything with his anecdote. It gives you no more information about what you should do, and is therefore technically useless.

It feels that way but only temporarily. When I keep repeating it not sleeping, my weekend is spent only sleeping and my weekday performance begins to drop, eventually I need to sleep in even on week days.

Only way I've managed to recover is to take an entire month off, sleep as much as I want for the first week (or two) and slowly try to shift back into an 8 hour cycle.

Sure, if there are some long-term negative effects, then I’d like to see them. But this article doesn’t claim or show that. So if that commenter feels like the weekend catchup works, then I would say that it does in fact work, by definition.

I've spent significant stretches of my life sleeping 4.5-6 hours/night on weeknights, and then 8-10 hours on weekends. It works just fine. I do drink a ton of coffee, but I'm quite alert even before my first one at 9AM, and capable of doing exercise/engaging in focused activity with zero difficulty. If I don't sleep enough on weekends though (like I have to set the alarm) I start getting jumpy and anxious though.

Yes. I need 7.5 hours/night to have sufficient energy to be productive, but usually get 6.5-7. I sleep extra hours over the weekend and this resets me back to where I need to be feeling. Sundays are amazing.

It's true that what I feel doesn't count towards proving a scientific fact for other people, but I don't see why it can't prove it for myself. After all, people's bodies occupy a broad continuum when it comes to how they operate, and scientific studies generally stipulate that their conclusions aren't true for everyone.

This is my experience as well. When I don't sleep, I feel terrible. If I sleep a long while in the weekend I might have low energy but that feeling of oppressive nausea goes away.

To push back some, how do you see your statement as different from post-modernist ("subjectivism is all that matters") or anti-intellectualist ("I don't care what science has to say") arguments in other subjects?

Surely in this example, it doesn't matter what science concludes. If the OP feels better after a weekend of sleep, then simply they feel better? Science can't demand that they're either lying or disillusioned. I say this as someone who has a strong belief in science.

I guess I was more talking about how the default reaction wasn't "hmm, maybe this new science should cause me to reevaluate my priors".

Instead it was to, within seconds/minutes, post about how this new scientific finding doesn't apply to them and they don't need to change any existing beliefs or behavior.

Surely our default reaction should be to deeply question our existing beliefs when disconfirming evidence comes up?

Our default reaction should be to watch out for shoddy science and shoddy scientific journalism.

This person's feelings are evidence that good science should be able to explain. Dismissing them just because they don't line up with our theory is precisely what anti-intellectualism is all about.

Seems to me like subjectivism is fine when you’re only talking about one subject: yourself.

I invite the authors (both from WP and the study) to do same 5 hours per workday and no catch-up during weekend and then tell me that catch-up sleep "is a lie".

It is a catch-up in terms of how you feel, but it doesn't repair the damage done to your overall health.

The study authors, at least, are on the level.

They've done some previous work on catch-up sleep and demonstrated that insulin sensitivity recovers to baseline, though not necessarily fast. Their claim here is that catch-up sleep doesn't seem to offset prior effects (e.g. by overcorrecting) or buffer against new deprivation (that is, you fall off abruptly to where the no-weekend people are). They didn't have anybody do 8 hours, no recovery on weekends, which is a shame, but they also didn't claim anything beyond "recovery sleep doesn't counteract/prevent the damage".

The person who wrote the WP article, on the other hand, has an awful lot to answer for... That garbage title is only the start of the horrible misrepresentation.

I wonder if what people call "catch up sleep on weekends" is just "having 2 days of appropriate sleep".

I would love to see an experiment where:

Group A: Sleep 5h per day on weekdays, and "catch up on sleep" during the weekends.

Group B: Sleep 5h per day on weekdays, and sleep the normal replenishing time on weekends (8-7h).

And then compare the effects of the weekend sleep.

I'm very sceptical of the "sleep debt" idea, which gives people the impression that they can do whatever they want with sleep and pay it back later. I honestly doubt you can pay any of the sleep debt you contracted over 2 days ago...

Yeah, I'm sad this wasn't tested. The subjects definitely moved back towards baseline, but if the extra sleep didn't produce any kind of overcompensation it's not super clear what it did. I know there are two other relevant results here.

One finds that people recover a portion of recent lost sleep and that's it; a week on 5 hours/night and two weeks prompt similar recovery amounts, and 48 hours awake prompts similar recovery to 72 hours awake. Which certainly says you can't "pay off" arbitrary debt.

The other one is from the same authors as this, finding that after chronic sleep deprivation, oral-glucose insulin response recovers within 3 days of 'free' sleep, but IV-glucose response isn't back to baseline after 5 days. Which suggests the added recovery sleep might just be a way to get back on track faster, rather than actually offsetting anything (at least for insulin).

But I don't think I've ever seen a study actually comparing the two conditions.

The referenced study [1] showed that taking people out of their regular sleeping patterns had detrimental effects, which is a surprise to nobody. It did not test for the effects of different habitual sleep patterns! Participants were required to engage in one of a variety of different sleep patterns over up to 11 nights, with no consideration given to their normal preexisting sleep pattern.

Our bodies adjust to different behavior over time, and it's only after the adjustment that you can begin to meaningfully compare and contrast different behaviors. Imagine you take random people and require they start running 4 miles a day with no consideration given to the preexisting patterns of physical activity! Well it'd certainly give the media their clickbait of the day as they 'discover' running is bad for you.

[1] - https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)...

The food analogy does not work and is a good example of people talking outside their area of expertise. Dieting on weekdays and "pigging out" once on pizza (what's wrong with pizza?) on the weekend would actually be fine. There is no evidence that food is like sleep and needs to be balanced on a daily basis.

Yeah I was a little confused by reading this. I know several people who underwent dramatic weight loss but still had cheat days a few times a month, I don't really think that's uncommon. I mean I'm sure it slows your progress compared to not "cheating", but I've seen enough success stories to know it doesn't completely undo everything (depending on how bad you cheat I guess?)

There seems to be some confusion in the comments over our anecdotal and subjective 'experience', and the conclusions of the study. Detrimental health effects, does not preclude feeling better.

It's possible to feel good and still have detrimental health effects occurring. It feels good to eat cheeseburgers. We all feel better after catch-up sleep, that doesn't mean that detrimental effects haven't taken place.

(This is leaving aside the debate about the study's sample size - which clearly requires further replication of results).

Study or not, I feel great after sleeping in on Saturday mornings. I look forward to it all week. Sensational studies like this come out all the time, usually don’t hold up over time and peer review. Wish people would get so excited over shorter work weeks.

But the problem isn't sleeping long on Saturday, the problem is that it might not be enough to catch up to lost sleep during the week.

I currently have a newborn and I know this too well from experience! I can get a few extra hours on weekends but it definitely does not help once the work week starts again.

One advantage of the extra time is that I finally have beaten my favorite game FTL with every ship! With our first baby I read through all the Game of Thrones books (I was hoping book 6 would be out by the time this kid was born!!)

This title is untrue according to research done by Dr. William Dement at Stanford. In his book Promise of Sleep he says they did a study where people were put in a room at an earlier than bedtime time, no electronics or devices or lights. They ended up sleeping 1-2 hours longer (closer to 10 hours) for a week and then it started to reach normal levels (closer to 8 hours) over the second week.

The premise of the book Promise of Sleep is "Sleep Debt" and they proved you can pay back Sleep Debt up to about 1-2 weeks worth and the rest is absorbed by the body.

From the WP article "While weekend recovery sleep had some benefits after a single week of insufficient sleep..." so here they are admitting there are some benefits from catching up on sleep debt, which is incompatible with the title that it is a lie.

They then go on to "...those gains were wiped out when people plunged right back into their same sleep-deprived schedule the next Monday.", which again is incompatible with the title because they are saying that there is benefit but most just kill the benefit, so weekend sleep catch-up is not a lie, but Carolyn Y. Johnson (or their Editor in Chief) are lying with the title.

That title is click-bait for sure.

The primary reason why 'catch-up sleep' is a lie, not mentioned by this article, is that on Saturday 7 am children will start jumping on your bed.

At least that's been my experience.

More seriously, my body seems to have adapted to shorter sleep. I used to read about famous insomniacs like Napoleon who functioned quite well on only 2 hours of sleep per night, but lately my body seems to have become unable to sleep for 8 hours. I often sleep only 5 hours and that seems to work fine for me now.

Ever heard of "ok-to-wake" lights? Basically it's a programmable light to help children know when to do things, like get out of bed. We started using one with my daughter when she was about 18 months old. We still use them with her and her brother, now ages 5 and 7.



https://www.keenglow.com/ (PLUG: I'm a stay-at-home dad and this last one is mine)

They can help with other routine stuff too, like bedtime or screen time.

The same kids that you have to literally drag out of bed during schooldays!

Only the oldest. The youngest would prefer to come out of bed at 5:30. 7 is the most important number for a child to learn to recognise.

I think that the real answer is that we do not know the answer yet. It is likely that both aspects are correct to some degree, I'll explain my take as of now:

There is a real cost to sleeping less or sleeping too much and that some will feel the impact more than others also depending on the environment they are in (e.g increased stress, etc).

Depending on the combined variables in conjunction to lack of sleep, some may see positive gains by 'catching-up' on the weekend (think of parents for example), although it is likely that a marginal amount of lack of sleep will continue to accumulate over longer periods of time. This in turn can potentially lead to increased risk of heart attack and other issues.

The lack of sleep scenario can be seeing a little with the same lens as smoking, results can vary from person to person, but on average, it has a real negative impact when done often or under unfavorable circumstances.

I bet it's much simpler than that. Just like oxytocin amount, being prone to cancer and everything else there is probably large genetic predisposition and response.

I bet the range range is enormous as to how sleep affects people.

Are there any good suggestions for what to do if "just get more sleep" isn't really working? These sort of articles really frustrate me, their suggestions always feel fairly weak.

I have difficulties falling asleep and a little bit of apnea and getting a grip on how to get consistent "gold standard" sleep is really frustrating.

I've tried forcing myself to sleep early using sleep meds, which doesn't really seem to work well or be a really good long term solution. Cutting coffee and/or alcohol for periods which doesn't seem to have any significant effects.

Irritatingly the most successful solution I found for a period was movement, as in someone driving me in a car on a long drive, I'd fall asleep in seconds into a deep sleep. Except that doesn't seem to happen on a train or taxi (not sure why yet), and it would be problematic working out how to do that routinely.

Maybe catch-up sleep doesn't work to fully repair the damage if you're totally wrecking your body during workdays, but it definitely helps if you're on the borderline.

I usually sleep more on the weekends. If I don't, I usually start to manifest cold-like symptoms, indicating that my immune system is struggling. To me, this suggest that catch-up sleep definitely helps in some regards. I can't speak about long-term effects, but I don't think having a malfunctioning immune system would be good for me in the long run either.

This is one of those cases where the effect is so clearly pronounced, I utterly don't care what "the medical science" says on the subject. Maybe it's different for different people.

(I generally do get 6-7 hours of sleep on any day, though. No idea how people sleep less than 6 hours a day without collapsing at the end of the week.)

Blue light blocking glasses have had such a tremendously positive effect on my sleep habits (earlier bedtime, better sleep quality) that at this point I genuinely feel bad for people who don't use them.

I got a pair that claims to block a very large amount of blue light (at the expense of a distinct orange tint), and just wear them after it gets dark.

It makes sense that they work; your brain uses blue light to time the release of melatonin and such, and our ancestors were only exposed to non-blue light from sitting besides the campfire socializing after the sun went down.

Wearing these allows me to experience much less of a consequence for using a computer at night which I simply cannot get myself to avoid.

I don't know about "weekend" catch-up sleep being different than other kinds of catch up sleep, but I just had a session where I pretty much got 1 hour of sleep in a 24 hour period. The following day I slept 10 hours. Now I know that's not exactly catch up, but I hardly ever sleep more than 7. It's hard for me to sleep more than 7. So if catch up is a lie, why is the only time I am able to sleep 10 if I had a missed day?

Catching up on sleep is usually said in the context of "I'll sleep more in the weekend to counteract the negative effects of sleeping 4 hours a night during the week". That is not how it works, since catchup sleep won't really do anything to reverse the effects of prolonged lack of sleep. You certainly will sleep longer when more tired, but it will not counteract the long term negative effects of sleeping too little.

I find it odd that this has only come to light recently.

When I was at University in 2011, I had a sleep psychologist take one of our psychology classes and it was well known back then that catching up on a week of sleep deprivation on the weekend doesn't work and only provides short term results. This article focuses on the caloric effects, but recently articles have been linking the research to purely the effects its has on your circadian rhythms.

Not a lie. It can't beat actual sleep at the time you feel tired but really helps a lot.

- source: I've been doing it for years.

Great JRE podcast episode with Matthew Walker (Professor of Neuroscience, Founder of the Center for Human Sleep Science): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwaWilO_Pig

For UK viewers, there was an episode of Twinstitute on iplayer that looked at sleep banking v power naps. The results of that seemed to suggest that sleep banking worked better than power naps, so I'm a bit confused why that works, but catch-up sleep doesn't?!

Possibly because power naps don't achieve anything.

It may be a lie, but sleeping in till 10am and waking up peacefully is a wonderful feeling.

This would seem to imply that the concept of 'sleep debt' is a lie.

When I say catch up on sleep, I simply mean I finally feel more rested. It was never meant to be taken literally. I wish all these people "debunking" it would understand that.

The problem is the 8 hour workday for me. Getting ready for work takes an hour, commute is at least an hour by train each way, so getting enough sleep is tough.

...but weekend stress related headache is very real

ITT: “my feelings say otherwise.”

Also ITT: "I have no problems with this, so if you do it's obviously your fault."

I stopped setting an alarm and sleep 9h a day now.

Don't know if this is good or bad.

the idea of catching up never made sense to me because the damage is already done. you already suffered the effects from lack of sleep.

going low carb (+ no sugar), cutting alcohol helped me naturally wake up more refreshed with less than 7 hrs sleep...

A good way to test wheather you’ve gotten enough sleep is to play a game of online chess. I make way more mistakes when I’ve slept less than optimal amounts.

I think catch-up sleep is just an excuse we grant ourselves for sleeping more on the weekends... we've been conditioned to feel bad for not feeling productive, so we need to grant ourselves special permission.

I don't care what the study says. I'm not going to stop trying.

Is this model actually GDPR compliant?

EDIT Either way I definitely don't want to trigger another conversation on the ethics of script/tracking/ad-blocking. I am wondering if this subscribe-with-your-data model is legally compliant with the GDPR. This is not a moral question (or at least I am not interested in a moral answer).

Without answering that question, just block scripts on the site and everything loads fine.

Really? I get a blank page (umatrix with only first party images and css enabled).

Might depend on the specifics. I'm using Brave -> Lion Icon -> toggle Scripts Allowed to All Scripts Blocked. As an aside it also saves those settings per site making it quite convenient!

No, it is not legally compliant. It maybe has lost a little bit of value to actually discuss this as it's been done so, so much. If you are very interested in what is and what is not compliant, you can read the resources published by the EU on the GDPR. They are very legible and relatively easy to understand.

Thank you for answering. I assume you are a subject matter expert qualified to interpret the legal documents?

I have actually read some of the resources AND been there whilst customers received advice from lawyers. From what I had understood this model looked dubious.

I have not seen a discussion of this that didn't just end up in talking about morals. Even excluding this I really only wanted input from experts - answers from actual lawyers about GDPR have surprised me compared to what developers had assumed about it...

NB If I had a customer that proposed this model I would still insist that they consulted with their own legal advice before proceeding!

For various reasons I am and have been deeply embedded inside the process of making a medium-large sized business (if you really look you may be able to figure out which one it is - in case you do: My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my employer in any way, shape or form) GDPR compliant. I have heard proper lawyers explain the terms to different kinds of people and found their conclusions match my own, coming from the literature. I feel like that allows me to talk a little bit about what this legislation means.

Given what you have said, perhaps the literature is not as obvious as I thought. As far as this model is concerned, it would not be compliant with the law as I read it and as I have had it explained to me. I don't deny that a party with enough money might be able to muscle a reading into existence that allows them to do this anyway, but that is I think an established risk of the legal system. For now we must operate with the law as written and broadly interpreted inside the EU.

> you can read the resources published by the EU on the GDPR. They are very legible and relatively easy to understand.

Reading the guidelines is not the tricky part of GDPR. The hard part is: "I have a website, am I compliant or what do I have to change to become compliant?" Mapping the guidelines on to real world systems is where the difficult analysis comes in.

I was implying that this was not complicated because I did not find it complicated. I have since learned that this was a lack of empathy on my part.

Don't beat yourself up! I think the problem is that there is so much FUD and inaccurate groupthink around GDPR issues. Whenever I have spoken to subject matter experts they have pointed out what you did that it actually is not that complicated.

But I guess that the average lawyer knowledgable on GDPR issues would struggle to sort an array even in O(n^2) time so what do they know...

I.e. all things are simple to those that understand them!

Father of two small children: no

Father of two here also, and I hear you!

I think the point of this is to say that the negative effects on the body of lack of sleep on the body can't be reversed by the weekend catch up.

That doesn't mean you don't feel better after that weekend lie in or catch-up nap!

I have about 4 years of my life I can barely remember because it was work, on call, broken nights with babies, sleep, work, take turns to nap at weekends. Our second child was called Rachel because the only leisure time we had was taken to watch an episode of Friends every night before turning in and it worked on our subconscious. We had the energy to do nothing more (well, we obviously did one thing more... but I digress).

I don't care what the study says. I'm not going to stop trying.

No amount of sleep will make you feel well if your entire life is economically and, therefore, emotionally stressed because your country does not care about you. Provide affordable health care, affordable quality day care, living wages, and housing security, and people will sleep like babies all the time. America will be the richer.

Aren’t you describing Europe though?

A wealthy and statistically happier and more free continent? Yes.

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