Repaying Sleep Debt: Is It Possible to Catch Up on Lost Sleep?

sleep debt

You’ve got exams. Your boss is loading you up with extra work. Your kid is sick and needs constant care. Or perhaps you binge-watched your favorite TV show. There are plenty of reasons why you may be missing out on sleep. However, without sufficient sleep, you won’t be much help to anyone before too long. A lack of sleep over an extended period of time results in poorer physical and mental performance. If you plan on taking care of anything, take care of yourself first. Can you honestly handle all of your responsibilities to the best of your ability on just a few hours of sleep?

Sleep deprivation can lead to poorer vision, impaired driving, mental fogginess, and more. If you haven’t looked into it yet, before we get onto this list, another factor that can cause inadequate sleep could be your comfort levels of your mattress. If this is the case, you may want to look into something like a Leesa queen mattress, maybe for you and your partner to get a comfortable night’s sleep. Or just for you to have extra room to relax at night. Depending on who you are, it’s recommended you get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. So, if you only get five hours, you’re in at least two hours of sleep debt. Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you need and what you get. Read on to learn how to repay your sleep debt and how to get better rest overall.

Slow & Steady Repayment

If you only get a few hours of shut-eye some nights, you may try to compensate by getting more sleep other nights. This method can work, but it depends on how much sleep you lose and how often. Most folks lose sleep during the weekday, then try to make up by sleeping for extended periods of time on the weekend. But, if you get less than five hours of sleep a night for an extended period of time, you have chronic sleep deprivation. Even sleeping for 10 hours in one shot won’t relieve you fully of your fatigue.

If you’ve only lost some sleep over a night or two, it’s much easier to make up for your sleep debt. To do so, you’ll want to add one to two hours of rest a night until you’re back where you need to be. This allows your body to assimilate to the change in sleep patterns and utilize the rest period more effectively.

How to Get More Sleep

When possible, it’s always better to take care of things before they become an issue. That’s why it’s in your best interest to try and get more sleep from the get-go rather than trying to make up for lost rest. Here’s how to get more sleep:

  • Go to Bed When You’re Sleepy: Finish the episode of that show or chapter of that book tomorrow. It may seem as if nighttime is your only chance to get things done. But in reality, staying up late will only lead you to being less productive the next day.
  • Maintain a Consistent Sleep-Wake Schedule: Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Do this even if you stay up later than usual the night before.
  • Turn off Electronics: Not only are they distracting, but the light from televisions and laptops trick our brains into thinking that it’s still daylight, making it hard to fall asleep even after you’re done using them. Stop using electronics at least one hour before bed.
  • Block out Noise & Light: You can’t control things like the sun or even noisy roommates, but you can do your best to prevent them from impacting your sleep. Invest in a sleep mask to block out any light and some ear plugs to dull noises that could wake you up.
  • Avoid Caffeine or Big Meals Before Bed: eating large meals will give your body energy it needs to burn off before you go to sleep, and can keep you up longer. Likewise, caffeine can keep you feeling awake for up to six hours, so stop drinking it at least six hours before you plan on going to sleep.

Sleep Debt Solutions

It is in fact possible to catch up on lost sleep, but the trick lies in incremental increases in sleep time, and not getting too behind. We also discussed several methods to achieve more sleep to prevent sleep debt. Take this new knowledge and implement it to get yourself some much deserved sleep, and start your day right.