No one likes being in debt, especially when it involves the sandman. Are you suffering from sleep deprivation? Did you know that when you don’t get enough sleep, it can cause both physical and mental consequences?
What is Sleep Debt?
Do you often have daytime fatigue, and you don’t understand why? Are you yawning constantly and at the most inopportune times? The problem might be you’re not getting sufficient rest.
If you don’t get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, then you will have side effects from the lack of rest the next day. Skimp on your sleep a few days in a row, and you have a rest debt.
Part of the problem is caused by chemicals in your brain, specifically adenosine. When you are awake, it increases the amount of this chemical in your mind. You should also know that this is a by-product of metabolism that uses energy in your body.
When you’re awake, your adenosine collects, which makes you feel the need to rest. As you sleep, the levels of adenosine drop so that you can be alert for the day. When you are not resting, you’re not clearing out enough of this chemical, and you will feel groggy and unrested.
Additionally, you may be lying in bed hoping to get rest, but a condition like sleep apnea or another illness makes your rest fitful. These conditions can also make you feel groggy and out of sorts the next day.
The Impacts of Previous and Recent Sleep Deficiencies
Do you think that you have sleep debt? There are consequences to this issue, but you should know that they can be reversed. When you get sufficient rest, you will counter the short-term effects that sleep debt has caused.
The bad news is that you can’t repay your debt overnight. If you’ve not had sufficient rest for days or months, there can be long term consequences of not getting adequate rest. Thankfully, when you start getting the required sleep you need, you will begin to tell the difference quickly. How can you pay off this sleep debt you’ve accumulated?
If you want to pay down your debt to the sandman, you need to hit the sack. It’s time to drift off into dreamland and ensure that you get the right amount. Here are ten tips for ensuring you pay your debt and ensure that you’re functioning better the next day.
1. Take Naps
Oh, to be a kid again and get a nap every day. Well, you may not be able to nap from noon to two as most infants do, but you can undoubtedly get a nap in on your schedule. If you get home at five pm in the evening, why not rest till 7 pm?
The weekends are also a great time to catch up on some much-needed rest; make sure you don’t overdo it. Too much sleep can be counterproductive and alter your circadian rhythm, which can be another significant problem.
You should learn the art of power napping and get 20-30 minutes on your lunch hour. You will be surprised how much easier the afternoon will go when you’re well-rested.
2. Increase Your Sleep Time
While you may not be able to go to bed super early, why not try just a half hour before you usually turn in? By adding a half-hour to your evening and morning, you will add an extra hour back towards your sleep debt.
Some people feel well-rested on six hours each night, while others may need a full 10 hours. Each person is different, so you should identify your needs and ensure they’re met. Try to sneak a few extra minutes whenever possible.
3. Make Weekends About Rest
So many people try to cram 100 things into their schedule on the weekends. One thing that you should make a priority during this time is your rest. Now, if you sleep in till noon or 1 pm on a Saturday, you will probably wake with a migraine.
Your body can also get too much sleep, and it can make you feel off the rest of the day. You know how much sleep you need, but make sure you don’t go over that amount by too much. You can repay your sleep debt all in one day as it’s a process that will take many days.
4. Limit Your Caffeine
Did you know that caffeine stimulates you and blocks the brain’s signals for adenosine? While that soda or coffee tastes so good, the feel-good effects it gives are noticeably short-lived. You cannot fix your sleep debt by drinking caffeine to stimulate you.
These drinks have a limit on what they can do, and they can be bad for you. You don’t need your heart racing and all sorts of issues going on because you’ve had way more caffeine than what’s recommended.
5. Make Your Bedroom a Haven
One of the reasons people aren’t getting sufficient sleep is that their bedroom is not geared towards rest. It would help if you had a comfortable bed with lovely plump pillows and soothing blankets.
If you want to get sufficient rest, then you must create a place where it can happen. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it may be because that lumpy mattress and flat pillow are partly to blame.
A study was done on the risks of having electronics in your bedroom. Even a small light from a DVD player or clock can be disturbing. Remove anything that has light in the bedroom.
When there is light getting inside, then your sleep can be disturbed. To pay back your sleep debt, remove anything that might mess with your rest.
7. Make Bedtime a Priority
Many people make bargains with their sleep schedule as they would a bet at a poker table. You can’t take away two hours here and put it on at the end of the week. Your bedtime must be a priority.
Set a bedtime and make sure you stick to it. If you decide that it’s lights out at 11 pm, you make sure that when 10:30 pm rolls around, you start getting ready. Everyone has tasks they must do before they can go to sleep. So, make that bedtime a serious deadline like a project you are doing for your boss.
8. Don’t Put Your Cell Phone Next to Your Bed
If you want to get better rest and pay back some of your sleep debt, you need to remove your cell phone from your bedroom. Many people are tempted to surf the web and read social media like it’s a newspaper.
You may go to bed at a decent hour, but all the surfing causes you to develop a debt to your rest. Cell phones are another electronic device that emits light into your room, and it can mess with your REM sleep. As bad as it hurts you to put your beloved phone in another place, you must do it for your health.
9. Do Something to Help Induce Sleep
Most people can’t just jump in bed at 11 pm and drift off into dreamland. If you’ve been stimulated from the day, you need to wind down. Why not take a bath, or have your partner give you a short massage to prime your body for sleep?
Some people find that reading a book is helpful to get them to wind down. Do anything you can to get yourself ready for rest if it doesn’t involve technology or electronics. Anything with light can hinder your rest, so you want to avoid those activities. Even a warm glass of milk may do the trick.
10. Kick the Pets Out of the Bed
Perhaps you’re going to bed at a decent hour, and you’re trying to get sufficient sleep, but the animals in the bed are making it complicated. If you have Fido in bed with you, then it may be time to get them a bed of their own.
Pets are great to snuggle with, but they can be hard to sleep with if you have a smaller bed. If you want to get better rest and feel great in the morning, then get the dogs and cats some space to call theirs.
If you notice that you’re not getting enough sleep, the culprit could be something medical. If you’ve done all the things listed above and still you’re not getting the rest you need, then you need to see a doctor. You may have a condition like obstructive sleep apnea that hinders you from getting the sleep you require.
You can’t go for long periods without sufficient sleep. Your body needs rest as it’s how it repairs damaged cells and creates new ones. You need to go into REM rest to repair and heal your body, and if there’s a problem, it needs to be addressed immediately.