What your sleep says about your health

Do you sleep between seven to nine hours per night? According to the experts, this is the amount needed, on average, to keep our minds alert and our bodies healthy — but many people aren’t getting enough.

In the United States, for example, half the population sleeps less than seven hours during the week, according to the 2013 International Bedroom Poll. To make amends, many of us resort to catching up when circumstances allow, whether it’s sleeping in on weekends or napping during the day.
But this catch-up can have its own impact on your body, and when the catch-up becomes too much, it could even be a sign of an underlying health problem.

Sleeping in on weekends

The much-loved weekend snooze stems from the need to catch up on sleep lost during the week.
“That’s an attempt to pay back sleep deprivation,” says Charles Czeisler, chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
But Czeisler is not an advocate of sleeping late over the weekend. He calls it “sleep bingeing” and says it’s a break from consistency that leads to further disruption of our sleep cycles.
Sleep takes place in cycles of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and slow-wave sleep (non-REM sleep) that alternate in approximately 90-minute cycles.
The extra hours of sleep, but more important the later time of awakening, on weekends leads to confusion and displacement in the body when people return to their weekday routine — something Czeisler defines as “social jet lag.”