why do I sleep more on weekends?
Sleep Problems

Why Do I Sleep So Much on My Days Off?

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Louise Carter

Days off work should offer endless possibilities, but they sometimes pass quickly if you feel exhausted. The likeliest explanation for feeling tired and sleepy on non-working days is “sleep debt.”

If you don’t sleep enough during the working week or get sufficient high-quality rest, your mind and body will seize the opportunity to catch up on lost sleep.

If you rely on caffeine to get through a working day but consume less coffee or energy drinks on your day off, the hormone adenosine will accumulate in the body, leaving you feeling drowsy.

Take time to assess your energy levels during the working week. There could be a medical explanation if you’re exhausted from Monday to Friday and don’t allow yourself time to recover.

Days off provide an opportunity to catch up with lost sleep, but this can feel like a waste when time away from work is so precious, leading to long-term complications.

Take steps to balance your sleep schedule so you have sufficient energy left for the weekend.

Am I Lazy for Sleeping All Day When I’m Not at Work?

If you need to sleep on your days off, listen to your body and get more rest if necessary. Of course, be mindful of medical reasons for your desire to sleep on non-working days.

If a doctor finds no medical explanation for “weekend fatigue,” adjust your lifestyle. Needing to sleep all weekend suggests you’re not getting enough rest during the week.

Consider whether you can adjust your sleep cycle or if you’re working harder than your body can handle.

is it bad to sleep on days off?

Why Do I Sleep More on Weekends?

Many people who work a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday shift pattern look forward to the weekend.

Time away from work is often considered an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, engage in leisure activities, and enjoy precious time away from the daily grind.

Unfortunately, many of us find that when these much-needed breaks arrive, we crave sleep more than anything else. Is it normal to want to sleep on your day off?

Your body may want an opportunity to pay off sleep debt accrued during a busy working week or adjust to a change in lifestyle, especially if it’s due to caffeine consumption.

Sleep Debt

An explanation for a desire to sleep more at the weekend than on working nights is catching up with lost sleep. If you have a taxing job, gaining as much rest as the mind and body demands is difficult.

Even if you spend 8 hours in bed each night during the week, this may not be high-quality sleep.

Perhaps falling asleep takes longer than you would like, or you find your rest disturbed by a snoring partner and are reluctant to wake up.

If your body craves rest to feel your best at the weekend, it’s often a good idea to use this opportunity to repay some accumulated sleep debt with a nap.

According to Revue Neurologique, failure to catch up on lost sleep can cause depression, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Different Use of Stimulants

Coffee and energy drinks are part of our days, as caffeine helps us remain sharp and alert.

The body produces adenosine. This chemical sends messages to the body and mind that we’ve used our natural energy reserves, so we feel tired.

According to the Journal of Neuroscience, caffeine is an adenosine blocker. This means that coffee and energy drinks counter the impact of adenosine and prevent fatigue, at least in the short term.

If you follow a different routine at the weekend, you’re less likely to consume as much coffee.

You may enjoy caffeinated drinks in a social setting but are unlikely to reach for the coffee pot during an afternoon energy crash, choosing to power through instead.

More adenosine will build in your bloodstream, and you’ll likely crave sleep. Alternatively, you may consume more coffee or energy drinks to remain active and get more done.

Too much caffeine can also make you sleepy. In addition to the sugar spike and drop associated with energy drinks, the brain panics and produces more adenosine when you attempt to block it.

Medical Reasons

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome) is where you always feel exhausted and want sleep, no matter how much you rest. Medicina explains that early intervention is crucial in managing CFS.

CFS can occur due to another illness, especially the lingering effects of a virus, or it can be genetic.

Have your thyroid levels checked via a blood test, as fatigue is a leading symptom of hypothyroidism. This is where there’s a lack of hormones produced and released by the thyroid gland.

If a medical issue causes weekend exhaustion, you’ll be as tired during the week. Your busy schedule doesn’t allow you to notice, or the brain won’t allow you to accept you’re feeling exhausted.

Is It Bad To Sleep on Days Off?

While catching up on lost sleep is advisable, excessive sleeping has drawbacks. If you’re wondering, “Should you sleep on your days off?” The answer is yes, with certain caveats.

If you feel that your desire to sleep at the weekend impacts your quality of life, work to resolve the issue and restore equilibrium to your sleeping habits.

Unbalanced Sleep Cycle

The risk of sleeping excessively at the weekend shatters a carefully curated sleep cycle established throughout the week. Building healthy sleep habits can take time but can be undone quickly.

A reliable schedule is a vital part of sleep hygiene. If you need to wake up at 6.30 AM and head to bed at 10.30 PM to get 8 hours of sleep, maintain this routine at the weekend.

If you sleep in for an extra hour or 2 on a non-working day, it’ll be harder to wake up at your regular time during the week. Your body will expect this additional sleep, and sleep inertia will be magnified.

Equally, it doesn’t take long for the mind and body to grow used to afternoon naps, especially during an afternoon energy lull. While it’s sometimes essential to repay sleep debt, don’t allow yourself to become dependent on sleep during the day.

This doesn’t mean sacrificing leisure time at the weekend. You can simply spend these extra hours in the morning relaxing.

Weight Gain

We burn calories while we sleep. Sleeping for 8 hours sheds around 30 – 40 calories per hour. As per the journal Sleep, spending more time in bed can lead to weight gain.

The more time we spend in bed, the less time we have for other activities, including exercise. This can lead to a higher BMI, which is linked to leptin resistance, a hormone that restricts appetite.

Sleeping for 9 hours or more is inadvisable if you control your weight.

Why can I sleep on the weekends but not weekdays?

Back Pain

If you spend too much time in bed, maintain an excellent posture and get a quality mattress. Oversleeping increases the risks of spinal misalignment and lower back pain.

When we lie in bed for more than 8 hours, the muscles supporting the back grow fatigued. If you’re prone to back pain, oversleeping can make the problem even more pronounced.

If you must sleep more at the weekend, do so gradually. Periodically getting out of bed and stretching your back muscles help you remain supple and pliable.

Why Can I Sleep on the Weekends But Not on Weekdays?

It is common to be unable to sleep on working nights, especially after a break. This issue is often referred to as “Sunday night insomnia.”

The human mind and body grow reliant on routines, so if you spend your weekends dozing while you grind through your working days, sleeping at the weekend becomes second nature.

Spending a weekend sleeping can also leave you with feelings of anxiety or guilt.

When Monday morning arrives, you may be concerned about the tasks you didn’t find the time to complete at the weekend and the work-related commitments that await you.

If you struggle to rest during the week, step up your sleep hygiene routine. Add a to-do list for the following day, enhancing your feelings of control and easing your ability to sleep.  

Using your days off to catch up with sleep lets you avoid an unpayable sleep debt, but don’t lose too many hours of sleep. The harder you work to create a rest schedule during the week, the less of your weekend you’ll lose out on sleep.