Have you paid your sleep debt?
Have you paid your sleep debt?
Let’s do the math. You lost about 3 hours of sleep per night last week because of the big project due on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, you slept in and get an extra 4 hours of sleep on the weekend. Here comes Monday morning, you feel refreshed, bright-eyed and only had one coffee to start your day when usually two. A lot of people think you have paid back the sleep that you lost last week and feel fantastic now. Well, let me tell you. Don’t be duped by your apparent vim and vigour. You are still carrying loads of sleepiness on your body surreptitiously.
“Sleep debt” is the difference between the amount of sleep that you should be getting and the amount of sleep that you get. Experts advise an average adult should get 7-9 hours’ sleep to feel restored and refreshed the next day. While some require 6 hours others require 10 hours. According to Australian Sleep Health Foundation, on average Australians go to bed at 11:14 pm and wake up at 6:32 am achieving 7 hours and 18 minutes of sleep on average. That means on average Australian is losing approximately one hour of sleep per night and that’s more than 2 full weeks of slumber per year.
The good news is that sleep debt is just like all debt. You can catch up with your lost sleep. That doesn’t mean you can catch up all the sleep you lost in a sleep marathon. A good way to catch up your lost sleep is to add an extra 2 hours per day. For the chronically sleep-deprived, take it easy for a few months to get back into a natural sleep pattern. It is best to go to bed when you are tired and wake up without an alarm clock. It’s important that you get out of bed when you wake up instead of staying in bed pushing the snooze button. You may find yourself catatonic at the beginning of the recovery cycle: Expect to bank upward of ten hours shut-eye per night. As the days pass, however, the amount of time sleeping will gradually decrease.
For recovery sleep, both the hours slept and the intensity of the sleep is important. Some of your most refreshing sleep occurs during deep sleep. Although such sleep’s true effects are still being studied, it is generally considered a restorative period for the brain. And when you sleep more hours, you allow your brain to spend more time in this rejuvenating period.
As you erase sleep debt, your body will come to rest at a sleep pattern that is specifically right for you. Sleep researchers believe that genes—although the precise ones have yet to be discovered—determine our sleeping patterns. That more than likely means you can’t train yourself to be a “short sleeper”—and you’re fooling yourself if you think you’ve done it. A 2003 study in the journal Sleep found that the more tired we get, the less tired we feel.
To earn back that lost sleep—and follow the dictates of your innate sleep needs. You’ll feel better than talking about the improved mental and physical capabilities that come with being well-rested. Finally, a scientific reason to sleep in on Saturday! Happy Sleeping