‘Sleep banking’ is the process of sleeping more in the days leading up to a period where you know you’ll be sleeping less. By accumulating this excess rest, you can (partly) counteract the effects of sleep debt, helping you feel better and more alert even after a bad night. Although this isn’t a quick-fix for consistently bad sleep, it can be a method to cope better with expected sleep loss, such as after a clock change or when traveling to a different time zone.

For sleep banking to be effective, you need to be able to get good, extended sleep when you need it. To do this, it’s essential to have a sleep setup that supports your needs. Our best mattress and best pillow guides can help you optimize your bedroom for rest, so you can grab those extra few hours. Want to give sleep banking a go? We asked an expert how it works, and how you can get started saving your sleep for a rainy day.

What is sleep banking?

Sleep banking is a method that involves accumulating extra sleep before a period of less sleep. This ‘banked’ rest can then counterbalance the sleep you’ve lost, helping you feel more alert and awake, despite your disrupted night. “Think of it as having a sleep savings account,” says Dr Jake Deutsch, board certified emergency physician and medical advisory board member for Oura

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The term ‘sleep banking’ was coined by a research team from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, after conducting a study to see whether excess sleep could improve performance and alertness during a later period of reduced sleep.

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