Sleep Debt: Can You catch Up On It?

Sleep is an essential part of overall health. Getting enough sleep offers a plethora of benefits1, like feeling more energized during the day, improving immune function, and aiding the brain in processing and storing new information.

Sleep debt, also known as sleep deficit, is the difference between how much sleep you need and how much you actually get. When you sleep fewer hours than your body needs, you have a sleep debt. However, when you’re in chronic sleep debt, you’re never able to catch up. Sleep debt can negatively impact your health. If don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, you might:

  • Feel tired throughout the day
  • Lose your ability to remain focused and efficient during the day
  • Weaken your immune system
  • Make it more difficult for your brain to process and store new information

Tips to Avoid Sleep Debt

The easiest way to avoid the consequences of lost sleep is to avoid accumulating sleep debt in the first place. Here are a few more ideas for improving your sleep hygiene to reduce the chances of accumulating sleep debt:

  • Maintain a set sleep schedule as it allows you to prioritize sleep and make sure you’re getting sufficient rest. 
  • A nightly routine may involve dim the lights, turn off electronics, and find a relaxing activity and allows your body to relax and prepare for quality sleep. 
  • Daytime activities like getting enough daylight and exercise in the day, restricting caffeine close to bedtime, screen time may help reduce sleep issues.
  • Optimize your bedroom environment for sleep -temperature comfortable for sleeping, block out any lights or noises and replacing your mattress, pillow, or sheets.

Tips to Make Up for Lost Sleep

If you miss getting in enough hours of sleep, here are a few ways you can make it up.

  • Take a power nap of about 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
  • Sleep on the weekends, but not more than two hours past the normal time you wake up.
  • Sleep more for one or two nights.
  • Go to bed a little earlier the next night.

Instead of thinking of sleep as another chore, think of it as preventative medicine. Luckily, sleep debt can be reversed with simple changes to your routine.


Sources: https://www.healthline.com/health/dr/sleep-deprivation/sleep-debt

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-debt-and-catch-up-sleep

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/what-is-sleep-debt

Author: Pallabi Sinha

I am a Nutritionist with 6 years of expertise in the field. I have a knack of convincing people to switch to a healthier lifestyle.