Using the Intelligence of Circadian Rhythms to Optimize Your Sleep

“If a person stays awake for an extra three or four hours one night, their circadian rhythm is affected for two to three days as it tries to reset back to normal.”

Sleep rebound is very obvious with high school kids and young adults. But as we get older, our brain doesn’t remember how much sleep we had the previous day and we wake up not feeling that tired, even if we didn’t get much rest. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t done some damage to our health; it’s just that our brain doesn’t remember that we have to catch up. That’s why some people think they need only six hours of sleep per night, while really their bodies would do better with more.

If you can get more sleep to recover from a restless night, that is always better. Any sleep debt you pay off is better than not paying it off. If you can’t make up the sleep for some reason, I recommend doing a little bit more physical activity or eating less the next day, which can counter some of these negative health effects.