Sleep Debt Tips You Can Take to the Bank
Call it groggy, foggy or just plain tired—losing out on sleep can have big consequences on daily functions. So, what happens when sleep loss compounds over time? Sleep debt. It’s the accumulated loss of sleep over time.
Sleep debt can’t be repaid, so catching up just means you meet your sleep needs each night. Being behind on sleep, or accruing sleep debt, however, could lead to the following symptoms:
- Poor concentration
- Trouble with short-term memory
- Anxiety, depression and irritability
Long-term sleep debt could lead to other serious health issues, including:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular diseases
Understanding your sleep debt starts with knowing how much sleep you need to feel refreshed. Fragmented or interrupted sleep can have a major negative impact on the quality of sleep you get. So, even if you get enough hours, it may not be the quality you need.
Here’s the good news. After just a few nights of good sleep, you’ll feel a world of difference. Take a look at a few ways to get back on track:
- Go to bed earlier. Easier said than done, but it’s crucial for finding that extra bit of time.
- Stick to a consistent schedule—even on the weekends. Our bodies are deeply rhythmic, so establishing a schedule helps us naturally wind down at the end of the day.
- Enact a screen ban before bed. No TVs, phones or other devices. Blue light emitted from these electronics activates our brains into a higher state of alertness.
- Make your pre-bed ritual relaxing. Dim the lights, read a book, work on a puzzle. Keep things quiet and relaxed.
Before creating an action plan for getting good sleep, it’s best to confirm that you don’t have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, insomnia or circadian rhythm sleep disorder.
To discuss strategies for better sleep, schedule an appointment with your doctor. With a plan in place, you’ll be paying your sleep debt back and feeling fresher than ever.