Most experts agree that one of the primary functions of sleep is to provide recovery and that the need to sleep (also called sleep debt) reflects a need to obtain sufficient recovery.
Sleep is essential for the repair, restoration, and recovery of both the body and mind. Although some people may gradually train their bodies to function normally without an appropriate amount of sleep, this could result in more severe sleep disorders down the line. One widely-held view is that the need for sleep increases as a function of time spent awake. In other words, until you catch up on your sleep, your body won’t be functioning at its best.
How to Avoid Sleep Debt
While the amount of sleep people need varies from person to person, most adults require at least seven hours of sleep each night for optimal health. Sleep debt is defined as the difference between the amount of sleep you need and the amount of sleep you actually get. So, if you need eight hours of sleep per night but only get six, you have two hours of sleep.
Sleep debt is cumulative, meaning going to sleep even 30 minutes later than usual for a few days can quickly add up. Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep can take a significant toll on your health and may increase the risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Because of these serious consequences, it’s crucial to find a way to recover from lost sleep and learn how to get better quality rest.
One of the easiest ways to recover from sleep debt is to take a good old-fashioned nap. Studies show that a brief, 10-20 minute nap can help you feel more refreshed throughout the day and even increase memory, learning, and mental acuity for a few hours. Still, while a quick nap may be a good temporary fix, you will need to make more impactful changes to fully recover from sleep debt:
Keep a set schedule:
Create a bedtime routine to prepare yourself for bed at night. Wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day. Consistency is key.
Improve daytime habits:
Exercise regularly (during the day), avoid alcohol and caffeine a few hours before bed, and limit screen time at night.
Create the perfect bedroom environment:
Invest in a high-quality mattress, choose comfortable sheets and pillows, and keep the temperature around 65° F.
Keep a diary:
A sleep diary can help you track your sleep habits and any other patterns that may be affecting your sleep.
When to See a Doctor
If you’re consistently struggling to get a sufficient amount of sleep, it may be due to a more severe sleep disorder. Contact us today for a sleep study and learn how we can help you get a better night’s sleep.