After a long week of barely any rest, it’s tempting to want to stay in bed all weekend, but is it possible to catch up on hours of missed sleep? Unfortunately, most research and experts say no.

Sleep debt, like credit card debt, is a real thing, except with sleep, you can't pay off your debt in one lump sum. It’s calculated as the hours of recommended sleep per night minus the hours of sleep you actually get.

Read: Sleep Deprivation: 5 Ways It Can Affect Your Mind And Body

Getting prolonged rest may seem like the right thing to do, but one Harvard Medical School study found that trying to compensate for sleep may affect your reaction times and ability to focus even more than if you pulled an all-nighter.

“You cannot make up for large sleep losses during the week by sleeping on the weekend any more than you can make up for lack of regular exercise and overeating during the week by working out and dieting only on the weekends,” Dr. James B. Maas wrote in his book Power Sleep.

A healthy sleep schedule isn’t about accumulating hours, but rather letting your mind and body rejuvenate. Getting insufficient sleep has a wide range of negative health effects including poor concentration, a weakened immune system, increased food cravings, and many others.

Although you can’t make up for missed zzz's, it's possible to regulate your sleep cycle for a better night's rest. Some tips to get into a routine include wearing dark glasses before bed to fall asleep faster, using eye masks and ear plugs to limit distractions, and keeping a consistent bed time and wake schedule, even on your days off.

For more information about why we can’t store sleep and how it affects your body, check out the infographic below.

How Sleep Works infographic
This infographic gives insight into why we can't make up for hours of missed sleep. Photo courtesy of NowSourcing,Inc.

See also: How To Survive Daylight Saving Time: 5 Sleep Tips To ‘Spring’ Forward

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