We know life can get busy. Sometimes, it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day to take care of all our responsibilities, whether they be for work, school, or family. Many of us sacrifice our regular sleeping habits to accomplish the things we need to do. Unfortunately, this does more harm than good since sleep and our well-being have such a symbiotic relationship. These choices can lead to sleep debt.
Keep reading to find out what sleep debt is, the risks associated with it, and some tips for making up for lost sleep.
What is Sleep Debt?
Sleep debt — also known as sleep deficit — is an accumulation of sleep loss due to insufficient sleep, regardless of the cause. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function properly the next day. So on average, you should be shooting for eight hours. Let's say you slept in your bed for six hours for one night. This means you have a sleep debt of two hours. Just like with a loan or credit card, the debt has to be repaid at some point. Also, if you routinely sleep six hours per night, the debt keeps piling up. As a result, making up for lost sleep becomes harder.
Sleep is a restorative function. When you drift off into dreamland, resting your head on our Original Performance Pillowcases, your body is healing, repairing your blood vessels and heart. Your brain clears out toxins and forms new neural pathways to help you perform better the following day. During sleep, your brain also processes and stores information that you learned that day.
However, it takes more time for your body and brain to recover when you're trying to catch up on sleep. A 2016 study published in PubMed suggests that it takes four days to bounce back from one hour of lost sleep.
The Risks of Sleep Debt
Sleep debt can ultimately result in chronic sleep deprivation. When your body doesn't get enough sleep, it can cause several short- and long-term health effects, including:
- Increased daytime sleepiness
- Poor concentration, creativity, and problem-solving skills
- Mood problems such as depression, anxiety, and irritability
- Weakened immune system
- Weight gain
- Low sex drive
- The risk for diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease
Tips for Catching Up on Sleep
When it comes to paying off your sleep debt, it may take a while to get back on track. But with discipline and persistence, you can chip away at it. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Stick with a bedtime routine: Try to go to bed 15 minutes earlier and wake up at your normal time.
- Be cautious with sleeping in and naps: If you sleep in on the weekends, make sure it's no more than two hours. For naps, don't sleep longer than 20 minutes. Why? You might have trouble falling asleep at night.
- Stop using electronics two hours before bedtime: The blue light emitted from your phone, computer, and TV suppresses melatonin production, making it tougher for you to fall asleep.
- Use a sleep tracker app: Sleep tracker apps are an excellent way to monitor your sleeping patterns and keep you on the right track.
- Upgrade your bedding: An optimal sleeping environment is key to catching ZZZs. Consider getting our cooling, moisture-wicking sheets. Our RIDICULOUSLY SOFT® fabrics breathe 10x better than traditional cotton, ensuring you get a cooler, more restorative night's sleep.
An old mattress may also be a reason you're not getting sufficient sleep. If you've had for longer than eight years, it's time to switch it out and choose from our new mattress selection. After countless hours of development and testing, SHEEX® has incorporated the most highly technical performance materials into our mattresses, which are guaranteed to give you a more restful and restorative night's sleep.