The Truth about Sleep Debt: Is It Possible to Catch up on Lost Sleep?

January 6, 2015

Sleep Debt

Adults need seven or eight hours of sleep daily in order to stay healthy and function properly. Whenever you miss more than a few hours of snooze time, you somewhat become a slave to sleep debt, which is something that’s quite difficult to redeem yourself from.

Sure, you can easily catch up to a couple of hours’ worth of sleep debt, but if you keep putting it off and accumulate dozens of hours of missed sleep, you’re gonna have a bad time at work or school. So before you ditch your bed mattress to pull out an all-nighter, best if you take a look at some facts first, buddy!

Settling Short-Term Sleep Debts is Easy

As mentioned above, missing only a few couple of hours of sleep is okay. More specifically, you can miss up to 10 hours of sleep for a week and still be able to catch up your lost snooze time without serious consequences. How, you might ask? Just sleep an extra three or four hours during the weekends and then add one or two more hours per night the week after. Schedules are forever unpredictable though, so the best solution is to avoid missing sleep in the first place.

Settling Long-Term Sleep Debts is a Challenge

A bigger sleep debt, however, will require more effort to remedy, and it can take a few weeks (if not longer) to settle. For lighter cases, having an extended R&R vacation can do the trick. Sleep for more than seven or eight hours during your time off until you’re fully refreshed and recovered. The only thing you need to worry about is keeping your alarm clock off for the time being. Graver cases though require more attention since their sleep debt might be derived from sleeping disorders or from an unhealthy lifestyle. In these situations, medical attention is necessary.

Settling Sleep Debts Take Time

As you might have noticed, the hours of sleep you’ve missed aren’t always equal to the number of hours you need to recuperate. The higher your sleep credit, the more interest you accumulate. And the sad truth is, you can’t pay for it all in one go since oversleeping is bad for you as well. You have to divide your debts over the course of a few days or weeks before you can be fully repaid. So much for your planned 24-hour sleep marathon!

Your Body is Mortgaged

Delaying to settle your sleep debt is bad news for your body since it’ll be the one paying on your behalf. This means increased chances for sleeping disorders and even certain life-threatening illnesses like heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity. Your mental and emotional healths are also affected as your overall brain performance is strained and your stress levels reach an all-time high!

So to answer the question of this post: Yes, it’s possible to catch up your missed hours of sleep. It’s not recommendable, however, due to the resulting consequences should you fail to settle your sleep debt. So as much as possible, try to get a good night’s sleep as regularly as you can.