Sleep debt is a leading cause of sleep disorders, including insomnia. The more sleep debt accumulated, the higher the risk of developing chronic sleep problems. It’s only sad, considering how difficult it is to remedy sleep debt.
But what is sleep debt, and why is it such a big deal?
Introducing Sleep Debt
Sleep debt refers to a sleep deficit. It’s the difference between the amount of sleep you need and the amount you’re getting.
It’s important to note that sleep debt is the cumulative effect of not getting a good night’s sleep. That means the condition doesn’t set in overnight but instead takes time to develop.
How Does Sleep Debt Work?
According to the Sleep Foundation, healthy adults should sleep around 7 – 9 hours every night (or every 24 hours for shift workers). If you sleep only 5 hours every night, you accumulate a sleep debt of 2 – 4 hours daily.
It’s important to point out that sleep debt can vary considerably from one person to another. It depends on an individual’s optimal sleep duration.
What Happens When You Have Sleep Debt?
The symptoms of sleep debt are nearly similar to those of insomnia and other common sleep disorders. The most common one is grogginess.
Grogginess refers to continued feelings of sleepiness during the day. People with this condition will frequently nap during the day to pay off their sleep debt.
Sleep debt may also present as physical and mental fatigue.
Physical fatigue can cause you to fall behind in your work. On the other hand, mental fatigue can inhibit creativity while also causing a lack of initiative.
A significant percentage of cardiovascular diseases and endocrine issues also result from sleep debt. The same goes for obesity and diabetes.
The following are other complications of sleep debt;
- Stress and anxiety
- Erratic mood swings
- Reduced memory
Tips To Avoid Sleep Debt
1. Take a quick nap
A quick nap can help pay off your sleep debt. Studies have shown that 10-minute naps can relieve fatigue and improve cognitive performance, while 20-minute naps may boost physical endurance.
2. Wake up early instead of staying up late
Another tip to reduce sleep debt is to be an early bird as opposed to a night owl. Going to bed early allows you to spend maximum time in deep sleep and other sleep stages.
3. Keep a sleep diary
A sleep diary can play a huge role in cluing you in on when to go to bed. So, consider having such a diary and following it religiously.
4. Consider vibrational sound therapy
Vibrational sound therapy is a healing method that uses sound vibrations. This technique has been used for years to retune the body and mind.
Vibrational sound therapy improves sleep quality by reducing stress and promoting mental relaxation, thereby shortening sleep onset time. It also helps the body transition seamlessly into deep and REM sleep.
Sleep debt can quickly degenerate into full-blown health issues if you do not seek urgent interventions.
Fortunately, you might implement the above-listed tips to ensure you get your recommended daily sleep dose.