After a week of surviving on minimal sleep you may assume that a lazy weekend will allow you to recover in time for the coming days. Not so: research has shown that not even a full week of quality sleep can reverse the cognitive and physiological ‘damage’ just five days of poor sleep can inflict on us.
Jonah Lehrer notes that it’s not just our cognitive functions that become impaired by a lack of sleep–it’s our immune system, too:
In a recent study for The Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists followed 153 men and women for two weeks, keeping track of their quality and duration of sleep. Then, during a five-day period, they quarantined the subjects and exposed them to cold viruses. Those who slept an average of fewer than seven hours a night, it turned out, were three times as likely to get sick as those who averaged at least eight hours.