You can't "catch up on sleep"

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January 19, 2010

Getting extra sleep to overcome sleep deprivation may seem like the right thing to do, but a recent Harvard Medical School study found that it's not that easy.

The study highlights the effects of chronic sleep loss on performance and demonstrates that it is nearly impossible to "catch up on sleep" to improve performance.

According to the study, even when you sleep an extra 10 hours to compensate for sleeping only 6 hours a night for up to two weeks, your reaction times and ability to focus is worse than if you had pulled an all-nighter. This is not good news for shift-workers such as doctors, truckers, and law enforcement officers.

The bottom line is that there is no real way to recoup lost sleep.There are things shift workers can do to get quality sleep during their off hours, for example, wearing dark glasses to block out the sunlight on your way home, keeping the same bedtime and wake time schedule, even on weekends, eliminate noise and light from your sleep environment (use eye masks and ear plugs).