How to Pay Your Sleep Debt
Use these techniques to pay your sleep debt
Sleep debt is a real thing. As it turns out, our bodies definitely need sleep. It restores and rejuvenates us. When we get enough sleep, we’re more alert and better able to perform and solve problems. During sleep, our bodies grow muscle, synthesize hormones, and repair damaged tissue.
Many people think that their body actually ‘shuts down’ during this time of the day – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s actually a lot going on inside of you when you’re snoozing – and cutting this valuable time too-short can leave us with what researchers call a ‘sleep debt’.
What is a sleep debt?
The term ‘sleep debt’ is used to describe the cumulative effect of not getting as much sleep as you need on a nightly basis. The typical human needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night – and if they don’t get all that they need without catching up, they’ll begin to ‘accumulate’ this lost time of rest.
You could also say that sleep debt is basically a term used to describe sleep deprivation. Of course, not all cases of this are extreme at first. We usually begin the process by going to bed a little too late and getting up a little too early. Some people are also kept awake at night for one reason or another (snoring can definitely contribute to this in a negative way).
Over time, this accumulated lack of sleep begins to take its toll on us. We begin to feel more groggy and fuzzy, and find that we have less energy to do what we need to do. We may start to consume more caffeine, or might even find other ways to help keep ourselves awake and functioning as close to ‘normal’ as possible.
Over time, we might even forget what it feels like to operate at ‘maximum capacity’ when it comes to our level of sleep.
So how can we fix it? What can we do to get rid of our sleep debt and get back to normal?
Here are some tips that can definitely get you started in the right direction.
Go to bed earlier
If you’re finding it difficult to crawl out of bed in the morning, try going to sleep an hour earlier. This might not be much fun, especially if you appreciate getting more of your own time after working hours. But on the other hand, a typical work day will tend to be much more pleasurable when you feel good. Plus, getting an extra hour of sleep each night will add up in the long run toward helping you to avoid unnecessary sleep debt.
Sleep in on the weekends
When the weekend hits, turn off your alarm and schedule time to sleep-in late. Don’t make early plans, and cover up the windows so that the sun doesn’t wake you up. It’s understandable to want to get up early and get the weekend started sooner rather than later – but you may very well need this time to rest and recover from the work week.
Take a vacation and sleep as much as you want
For settling long-term sleep debt, you might want to take a vacation – and plan on sleeping-in every morning. Taking an extended weekend, or even an entire week off of work to give yourself time to ‘catch up’, could be a fantastic way to make-up for what you’ve lost over the last few months.
Avoid a schedule that will cause you to be sleep deprived
If at all possible, try to avoid a schedule that doesn’t allow you to get the sleep that you need. If you find that life is just too full to get everything done, then think about simplifying and trying to make more room for basic necessities – like rest and relaxation.
Information! It definitely takes discipline to go to bed at a more reasonable time – but the positive effects that it can have on your life are almost limitless. Sleep is fundamental to good health – so don’t cheat yourself out of it.