Can You Catch Up on Lost Sleep?

The United States is notorious for being a nation of sleep-deprived people. In fact, it has one of the highest rates of sleep deprivation in the world. If you fall in into the category of constant sleepiness, then you may be wondering if it is possible to catch up on all the lost sleep you get from those late nights partying, studying, working, or generally being restless. Let’s take a look at the truth to whether or not you can catch up on sleep.


Not Getting Enough Sleep Matters


Having a good night of sleep is as critical as how you spend your time during the day. Getting enough sleep lets your body recharge and rest so that you can tackle your day to the fullest extent. It also allows you to control stress much easier and even lose weight. Sleep experts recommend that you get between seven and nine hours of quality snooze time. However, studies have found that 35 percent of US citizens do not get the necessary amount of sleep, instead getting less than seven hours.


Sleep Debt is a Real Thing


You may have paid back all your credit card and student loan debt, but if you have not gotten enough sleep in recent days, then you are in another type of debt—sleep debt. Sleep debt is the number of hours of sleep you need to get minus that amount that you actually get. After days of not getting enough sleep, your sleep debt can add up to a substantial amount. The longer that you go surviving on five hours or less of sleep, the harder it gets to catch up on your sleep. Unfortunately, sleeping in on the weekend will not allow you to recover.


Curing Sleep Deprivation


If you are periodically not getting enough sleep, then you can repay your sleep debt over an extended period. Adding an extra hour or two per night is a great way to recover from your lack of sleep. However, if you have chronic sleep deprivation, which means getting less than five hours of slumber per night over a long period of time, paying back your sleep debt is a much harder task. In one study, those that suffered from acute sleep loss had a much easier time being attentive and focused after they slept for ten hours. On the other hand, those who had chronic sleep deprivation struggled to stay alert even after getting ten hours of rest.


Recommendations for Sleep Deprivation


When you feel tired, go to bed and let your body naturally wake up in the morning. You may feel extremely catatonic in the first few nights of your recovery cycle, but this is normal. Attempt to get at least ten hours of sleep during your recovery, and then slowly dwindle it down to eight. To get recovery sleep, both the amount you sleep and the quality of the sleep are pertinent. The most refreshing sleep happens during your deep sleep cycle, as it is necessary for the restoration of your brain. When you allow yourself to sleep longer hours, your brain spends more time being rejuvenated.


Prevention is the Best Solution


As catching up on sleep becomes harder the more your sleep debt accumulates, the best method for sleep loss is to prevent it in the first place. A staggering 49 percent of US citizens claim that lack of sleep causes their stress. Try listening to some calming music and taking deep, relaxing breaths before you fall asleep. Reading a book and sipping on tea is also an ideal way to calm your mind before bed.