Can you catch up on sleep?


So I was awake for like 36-38 hours and then I fell asleep quite early (9pm) and thought I would wake up at a reasonable time. But I woke up at 3pm.
Did my body catch up on sleep or did I just completely ruin my sleep schedule?

In: Biology

Short answer: You may have ruined your sleep schedule

Slightly longer answer: Your body does need to catch up on sleep, but 18 hours is a lot more sleep than a typical body ever needs to catch up; typical “catchup” sleep is 10-12 hours. The longest someone ever stayed awake was 11 days (read about it here:, and they only required 14 hours of sleep to catch back up to normal.

Longest answer: There’s two kinds of sleep deprivation, acute and chronic. Acute is what you did, staying awake for one long period of time. Acute sleep deprivation does incur a sleep dept, but it’s way less than the amount of sleep you’re missing – you just need a couple extra hours to catch up, not two full nights of sleep back to back. Chronic sleep loss, however, is a whole different beast. Chronic sleep loss is when you do sleep, but not enough, and for a long period of time (getting only 3-5 hours a night for months/years). This can take months of healthy sleep to recover from, a single good night isn’t going to fix it.

No, you can’t catch up on sleep. If you lost a week of sleep, you wouldn’t then sleep for a week. Your biological clock would wake you up. You are sleeping because you are tired. You can’t wreck you sleep schedule this quickly. It takes a few days to adjust to a new sleep schedule even when traveling to the other side of world

If you get 4 hours of sleep per night for a week, then you miss the other 4 hours of sleep that is needed (8 hours needed per night). So 28 extra hours of sleep are needed (7*4=28). So you’d need to catch up with an extra 4 hours of sleep each night for the next week and get 12 hours per night in order to make up for the 28 lost hours. Your body can’t make it up all at once.

Check out Matthew Walkers interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast (YouTube). The most in-depth discussion on sleep I’ve ever come across. Short answer is no…you can’t no catch up on sleep.