Can you make up for sleep debt?

August 20, 2021 / 07:28 PM

Getting enough sleep is a crucial part of overall health. It helps to improve our immune system and allows the brain to process and store new information. However, many people cannot have adequate rest due to various reasons. The good news is, we can recover the benefits of sufficient sleep by taking the right steps.

What is sleep debt?

Sleep debt or sleep deficit is the gap between the amount of sleep one person needs and the amount they get. It is noticed that accumulating sleep debt can make us adapt to it. In other words, people would experience declines in both mental and physical performance; however, we might not feel sleepy.

How to recover from sleep debt?

When you are underslept, the first thing in your mind would be taking a nap. A brief nap from 10 to 20 minutes in the day might help us to feel more energized and refreshed. A nap at noon can especially improve the learning process and memory for a couple of hours.

Another method that comes to our mind when having a lack of sleep is sleeping in on the weekends. However, one study has stated that sleeping in on the weekends cannot help to reverse the weight gain issue and the metabolic dysregulation related to regular sleep deficit. And it is still a question whether sleeping in can compensate for our sleep debt or not.

Besides, research has proven that it might take up to 4 days for your body to recover from 1 hour of sleep debt and even 9 days to eliminate the sleep loss. So sleeping in on the weekend or napping actually cannot be enough.

Tips to catch up on sleep

Below are several ideas for you to recover from the effects of sleep debt and get back to a healthy sleep schedule:

  • Consistency: You should keep a consistent schedule of sleep by waking up at the same time and going to bed at the same time every day. This is important for your circadian rhythms.
  • Take your time: Since it might need a few days for your body to recover from sleep debt, you should increase the sleep time slowly – from 15 to 30 minutes at a time. You can stop when you get an adequate amount of sleep.
  • Sleep diary: You might consider having a sleep diary to keep track of your sleep schedule and any factors that affect your sleep quality. 

Even though you can find out several ways to make up for your sleep debt, getting sufficient sleep and avoiding sleep debt are still the most important ways to take care of your body. Don’t forget to choose a suitable mattress to ensure your sleep quality and quantity every night!

Source: Sleep Foundation