Good News: Science Says You Can Sleep In and Still Be Productive

Hallie Gould
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@seame.linen

To me, nothing feels better than sleeping in. I relish the fantasy of Saturday mornings—comfy white sheets, pillowy bed, the sun shining in through my window. It's my idea of heaven. I also should add that I'm quite the night owl. I like to go out, I'm up late finishing work, but more than anything, I find myself staying up late to watch TV all by myself. I love my roommate, but there's nothing better than having free rein over the DVR and every salacious reality show that comes along with it.

Previously, I believed this to be harrowing behavior. It can't be healthy, I'd tell myself, trying anything and everything to become a morning person. And, I admit, I do feel good when I wake up earlier to feel productive. But is it really necessary? Harvard researchers (let's call them angels, shall we?) beg to differ. In a new study, the findings associate irregular sleep patterns with poorer academic performance and productivity—not staying up late or sleeping in. In fact, according to the results, you can go to sleep and wake up at whatever time you like. The only catch is you have to keep a steady schedule.

The study looked at 61 undergraduates for 30 days using sleep diaries and found if the participants went to sleep each night and woke up at the same time, they were more productive. Never does it specify that these times had to be particularly early. Charles Czeisler, MD, chief of the Sleep and Circadian Disorders Division at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told CNN, "The results of this study are not suggesting everybody has to be a goody two-shoes. So if you go to bed at 2 and get up at 9, that's fine. You just have to consistently do the same thing." While I'd perhaps use different language (going to bed early doesn't make you anything other than a person who chooses to go to bed early), the findings do make me happy—and relieved—that I don't have to give up those blissful Saturday mornings in bed, but rather set up a schedule that works best for me. There is a setting on your iPhone—it's called Bedtime—that will alert you pre-bedtime so you can unwind at your own pace and wake you up at the same time each morning. That way, you can keep to your own schedule and maintain productivity.

Next up: the strange (but effective) sleep tips we learned from Byrdie readers.

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