Sleeping in at the weekend might actually be good for you

This content is recommended for 30~60 minute sessions. Note that tutors may not be familiar with the content. Make sure you consult with your tutor before using this material. 


After a quick greeting, read the following article out loud. Your tutor will go over pronunciation if necessary.

Abbie Bernet / Unsplash

[P1] It’s no secret that unpleasant things happen when we don’t get enough sleep. On the surface it can make us more irritable, but it can also have long term affects like an increased risk of dementia.

[P2] Unfortunately, many of us don’t get the sleep we need due to work, social commitments, or behaviours like binge-watching our favourite shows. This means a lot of us are guilty of the weekend lie-in.

[P3] Previous research has revealed how trying to play catch-up with our sleep is a pretty bad idea. Sleep scientist Matthew Walker put it this way:

[P4] “Sleep is not like the bank. You can’t accumulate a debt and pay it off at a later point in time. If I were to deprive you of sleep an entire night, and then in a subsequent night give you all the sleep you want, you never get back all that you’ve lost. You will sleep longer, but you will never achieve that full eight-hour repayment. The brain has no capacity to get back that lost sleep.”

The odd lie-in might be okay
[P5] However, new research contradicts this belief of many sleep scientists, and has shown you might be able to make up for lousy sleep with the odd lie-in. The study from Stockholm University, published in the journal Sleep, looked at the sleeping habits and overall health of 43,000 people.

[P6] The results showed that people who slept less than five hours a night, or more than 8 hours a night, had much higher rates of mortality than those who slept more. Overall, it was the average amount of sleep somebody got that seemed to make a difference.

[P7] Torbjörn Åkerstedt, a biological psychology professor at the Center for Stress Research at Stockholm University, and lead author of the study, said this seems to show that if you suffer from bad sleep over the week, and make up for it at the weekend, you might be doing your body a favour.

[P8] “It seems like you actually can compensate by catching up on sleep during weekends,” Åkerstedt said. “This is in effect an argument for lazing around all weekend. There probably is an upper limit, but it’s anyway better to increase [sleep hours] on the weekend rather than not doing it at all.”

[P9] One reason we feel groggy and tired during the week is that we are out of sync with our circadian rhythms, otherwise known as the body clock. If we are on a regular schedule, our hormones make us tired when it’s time to go to bed, and wake us up again in the morning.

Our bodies like routine
[P10] It is very easy to stay up too late, or snooze our alarms. Even the slightest adjustment can make us fall out of whack, like when the clocks change in spring and autumn. Making up for lost sleep at the weekends is probably better than doing nothing at all, but the best thing is to keep to a schedule whenever you can.

[P11] “There does have to be a balance, because we do get up early during the week, and then that causes an accumulation of sleep debt, so were not sleeping enough during the week,” Facer-Childs said. “So it’s difficult to get the balance between keeping a regular schedule and catching up on some much needed sleep.

[P12] “I’d say the best thing to do is to try and keep a regular schedule, but that means getting up early during the week but not going to bed late.”

[P13] The new study doesn’t recommend always lying in at the weekend, as results also suggested too much sleep can increase the risk of death too. But if you’ve had a long week, and you really feel like your body could do with the extra rest, don’t feel too guilty about it.



Read the word/expression and definition out loud. Your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.

Vocabulary/ Expressions

Expression Definition
irritable (adj) becoming angry or annoyed easily
e.g. I came home from work feeling tired and irritable.
dementia (n) a mental illness that causes someone to be unable to think clearly or to understand what is real and what is not real
e.g. This patient suffers from dementia.
contradict (v) to say the opposite of (something that someone else has said)
e.g. He contradicted the charges of his critics.
groggy (adj) not able to think or move normally because of being tired, sick, etc.
e.g. I’m still a little groggy from my nap.
out of whack (idiom) out of order; not working
e.g. The garage door is still out of whack.

Discussion Questions

Use the following questions as a guideline to help develop an interesting conversation with your tutor. Feel free to diverge from these suggestions if anything interesting comes up.

  1. Summarize the article in your own words.
  2. Describe your sleeping patterns. Do you play catch-up during weekends?
  3. How important is sleep according to the article? Do you agree?
  4. What actions can you take in order to improve your sleep quality/routine? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!


Go over any new expressions or vocabulary that you learned today.

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