Repaying Your Sleep Debt. Can You Catch Up On Lost Sleep?

by 365veda Official on Jan 04, 2024

Repaying Your Sleep Debt. Can You Catch Up On Lost Sleep?

Staying up to finish that one last episode on Netflix? Or completing that extra task which had been long due? While there are a million reasons to stay up late, staying awake only sabotages our productivity and emotional well-being.

If you thought that debt exists only in the form of loans and credit card bills, here is a reality check - there is another debt we owe to our body - the Sleep Debt!

What is Sleep Debt?

Simply put, the difference between the amount of sleep we should be getting and the amount of sleep we actually get is sleep debt. The term used to describe that deficit is debt.

One cannot oversleep more than one needs and store the rest to compensate for the debt but following a sleep schedule is a disciplined way of life that your body will thank you for.

The value of your Zzz’s

According to Ayurveda, sleep is considered one of the pillars of life. It describes how the body’s systems can go haywire when we lose sleep.

Every system in the body from the heart and blood vessels to the brain and immune system performs multiple biological processes, gets rid of toxic waste, and repairs itself during the time we are in the sack.

The body's circadian rhythm controls the sleep-wake cycle. It helps regulate sleep patterns, feeding behaviour, hormone release, blood pressure and body temperature.

What is going on within the body when you are snooze-deprived?

Sleep deprivation disrupts the immune system, metabolism, regulation, attention, learning and memory. People who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night are likely to put on more weight and attract a range of health issues from diabetes to high blood pressure, mood changes and many more.

Can we catch up on lost sleep?

Our sleep is not very forgiving of being moved to various times as per our changing schedules. Studies suggest that paying sleep debt accumulated on weekdays by making it up over the weekend still makes us pay an extra cost, in terms of increased waistline, weight gain, and changes in how our body uses insulin.

Our body can recover from short-term or acute sleep debt, but the results are inconsistent and so subtle that it can take months for a chronically sleep-deprived person to get back on track.

But don't lose heart yet, here are few ways to recover from sleep debt:

  1. Know your sleep need: When it comes to sleep, it is generally accepted that 8hrs of sleep is healthy but understand your requirement based on age and genetics. Healthy sleep is both about quality and quantity as our mind gets most refreshed during deep sleep.
  2. Schedule your sleep: Track your sleep and schedule a regular sleep and wake-up time. Ritualizing sleep time helps you avoid the reasons you find to stay up longer. Over time, you will become more familiar with your ideal sleep window as you get accustomed to this routine.
  3. Keep your coffee aside: Getting enough sleep is related to the amount of caffeine you consume during the day. Caffeine interferes with your circadian melatonin rhythm and delays the onset of sleep if consumed close to your bedtime. Avoid caffeine 4 hours before sleep.
  4. Prepare your surroundings: Keep your bedroom completely dark, as light can affect your sleep-wake cycle. Invest in quality shades for your windows and wear an eye mask if ambient light can’t be avoided. Keep your cell phone away from your bed and on silent mode.
  5. Calm your thoughts: Avoid talking about things that can create anxiety or trigger anger, such as a workplace disagreement just before you try to sleep. Instead, schedule your conversations later and get the restful night’s sleep you deserve.
  6. Ayurveda herbs: Usage of Ayurveda herbs like Ashwagandha, Licorice, and Gotukola, can calm your nerves and improve the quality of your sleep. Treatments like Shirodhara, where there is a rhythmic pouring of medicated oil over the forehead of a person help reduce stress, calm the mind, and induce better sleep.

While we may not be able to compensate for every hour of lost sleep, but getting 8 hours of quality sleep can be a good starting point.