Eight hours. That’s it. That’s the recommended amount of sleep average adults should be getting every single night in order to avoid a sleep deficit. Sounds easy enough, right? After all, eight hours of sleep still leaves sixteen other hours to do whatever else you need to get done – including a full day’s work, and eating meals, and commuting, and grocery shopping, and soccer practice, and … well, you get it.
Long story short, eight hours of quality rest per night is rare, if not darn near non-existent for most people these days, and that’s why sleep deficit is on the rise. So is there any way to pay off a sleep debt and get back to even? The answer is … sort of.
How Does A Sleep Deficit Happen?
Obviously every time you go to bed you’re hoping to wake up rested and refreshed eight hours later. The problem actually begins with each and every night we don’t log a full night of solid sleep. In other words, sleep deficit is cumulative – it adds up over time. And the more consecutive nights you come up short, the more pronounced the after-effects. Granted, we’re all different so some of us may only require 6 hours, but then again others may actually need nine or even ten hours to be at their best.
Even after just a few days of insufficient sleep, not only will you be more moody, you’ll also be less alert, react slower to your surroundings, and become more likely to get sick. Even one night without the sleep your body needs throw your hormones out of whack and bump up your blood pressure.
So how can you fight back? Well, believe it or not, the old standby plan of sleeping in late on the weekends actually does help some, but it won’t fix everything. The best (and only) long-term solution is simple and straightforward: you must get more sleep. Put down the smart phone or tablet and turn off the TV an hour before your actual bedtime to allow your brain to turn off and also to help train your body to understand that when you do finally crawl between the sheets, it’s sleepy time. After a while your body will fall into a more natural pattern, and your quality rest will gradually erase the sleep deficit you’ve been building up for so long. You’ll both feel better and be healthier in the long run.