Not getting enough sleep over a series of days leads to sleep debt, which progressively builds daily. Sleep debt is also called sleep deficiency and is primarily the difference between the amount of sleep an individual needs and the amount of sleep he actually gets.
A large sleep debt can result in physical or mental fatigue and can exert adverse effects on one’s cognitive functionality, overall energy, and ability to think properly.
There are two kinds of sleep debt: one that results from partial sleep deprivation and the other that results from total sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation results in multiple health problems, including
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
Does Sleep Debt Affect Memory?
Sleep debt badly affects our memory and weakens our brains. The lack of sleep has unlimited harm to our memory.
Sleep deficiency also results in higher chances of injuries in children, teens, and adults. Sleep debt does not always mean that our bodies will feel fatigued or tired.
How Long Does Sleep Debt Last?
According to researchers sleep debt can last for 9 days, and if we lost one hour of sleep it can take four days to recover it.
Research has indicated that people can cognitively adapt to chronic sleep patterns and cannot feel sleepy throughout the day even though their body is showing significant declines in mental and physical performance.
How to Prevent Sleep Debt?
The simplest way to avoid the consequences of sleep deficiencies is to avoid accumulating sleep debt in the first place. Acknowledge your daily sleep requirements and prioritize sleep as one of the most important components for the normal functioning of your body.
The amount of sleep people need can differ from one person to another. However, most adults need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. On the other hand, teenagers and children require even more sleep to support their bodies as they grow and develop.
Sufficient amounts of sleep improve cognitive performance and allow us to be more efficient and focused on our tasks during the entire day. Here are a few tips for improving your sleep patterns in order to reduce the chances of accumulating sleep debt:
How Do I Get Rid of Sleep Debt?
Keep a Set Sleep Schedule:
Maintaining a proper and consistent sleep schedule allows our body to get proper rest which significantly improves our overall health.
However, if someone needs to change his sleep patterns, he should do it slowly by changing it in 30 to 60-minute increments, so the sleep schedule is not disturbed at once.
Consider Daytime Habits:
If someone is finding difficulties in getting adequate sleep at night, they should rethink their daytime activities that might be contributing to sleep issues.
Making sure to get enough daylight and exercise during the day; trying to avoid caffeine too close to bedtime, restricting activities in your bed to just sleep, and limiting screen time before sleeping may significantly minimize sleep problems.
Optimize the Bedroom Environment:
Improve your bedroom environment for sleep. Keep the temperature comfortable for sleeping, block out any source of noise or lights that may keep you awake, and consider replacing your pillow, mattress, or sheets if they are uncomfortable or getting older.
Sometimes one cannot prevent sleep debt. Whether it is due to a health condition or due to a hectic work schedule; that’s why, it is important to plan for recovering from lost sleep, and, with consistency and a little patience, people can recover from sleep debt and resume their daily life activities with optimum health.
Develop a Nightly Routine:
After an exhausting day, a relaxing night-time routine allows our body to ease up and prepare for quality sleep.
In order to develop a nightly ritual, try to set the alarm for about 30 minutes to an hour prior to bedtime to remind you to turn off the electric devices, dim the lights, and find a cozy and relaxing activity.
However, it typically takes days to recover from sleep debt. If you are lacking sleep and want to recover from it, try to increase your sleep time slowly, by 15 to 30 minutes at a time, until you reach your body’s optimal amount of sleep.
Focus on improving your sleep hygiene and consistently getting enough rest will surely enhance your body’s overall functionality.
Benefits of Getting Adequate Sleep
Increases Cognitive Functionality:
Sleep and brain performance are interlinked with each other. The more we sleep, the more effectively our brain works and can solve problems and remember things in a more accurate manner.
Research has demonstrated that lack of sleep can sometimes create similar effects on our bodies as alcohol intoxication does.
So, if you want to improve your overall brain functionality, it is essential to get at least 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night.
Helps Maintain Weight:
The amount and quality of sleep directly influence our weight. Research has demonstrated that there is a correlation between poor sleep and weight gain.
Appetite-regulating hormones, leptin, and ghrelin get out of balance by lack of sleep, which leads to increased appetite and weight gain. Hence, enough sleep daily can effectively help people to maintain a healthy weight.
Reduces The Risk of Various Health Conditions:
Sleep affects every tissue in our bodies. It affects stress and growth hormones, our appetite, immune system, blood pressure, respiratory, and cardiovascular health.
A study has shown that lack of sleep can increase the risk of health problems like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and infections. That’s why it is necessary to get adequate sleep in order to prevent infections and diseases.