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A Good Excuse to Sleep in On the Weekends

If you are one of the many people who like to sleep in on the weekends, now you can do so without feeling guilty about it. Scientists at the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania recently found that it may boost your brain power.

The study was published in the August 2010 issue of the journal Sleep.

For the study researchers recruited 159 healthy participants with an average age of 30. 142 of the participants spent 10 hours in bed for two days and then had their sleep restricted to 4 hours a night for five consecutive days.

They were then randomly assigned to receive various doses of recovery sleep ranging from zero to ten hours/ night.

The other 17 participants slept for 10 hours each night.

During the study the participants were asked to complete a computerized assessment every 2 hours while they were awake. The researchers found that when sleep was restricted, the participants had a shortened attention span, impaired alertness and reduced reaction time.

Once participants were given just one night of full sleep, however, their test scores returned to normal. These findings show that you may in fact be able to “catch up” on your sleep and staying in bed a few extra hours on the weekend may be just what your body needs to launch into a new week.

Another study published recently in the same journal found that the optimal amount of sleep per night is 7 hours.

Doing your best to get those 7 hours and maintaining a regular sleep schedule can have far ranging implications for your health beyond keeping your mind sharp. Lack of sleep is linked to everything from increased blood pressure and stroke risk to cardiovascular disease.

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