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Pay Back Your Sleep Debt


You can help prevent sleeplessness by avoiding caffeine after noon, limiting sweets before bed, and reducing harsh screen light in the evening.  But once sleeplessness strikes and sabotages the night, how long will the haze of sleep deprivation last, and how long will it take us to catch up on those ZZZs?

The key solution takeaway from Harvard Medical is to settle a short-term debt as soon as possible, address long-term debt, and avoid backsliding into a new sleep debt cycle. (1)

Paying back in the short term debt is the easy math. Calculate your sleep lost throughout the week and add in extra hours on the weekend, with an extra hour each weeknight if needed until it is equal. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Think you need less? See more on getting the right amount of sleep for you.

When dealing with a lifetime of sleep debt, you may need to schedule a vacation to catch up.  Choose a low-maintenance place with as little adventuring as possible. Think; beach. According to the pros, it could take a few weeks to catch up and no alarm clock is the key to your success.

Prevention is best.  Like any other issue, try to head sleep deprivation off at the pass. That means setting a sleep schedule and keeping to it as best as possible. If you plan to sleep at 10 pm, head to bed around nine and try reading a book instead of watching a show you may be tempted to binge on.

Now that you are set on your strategy to pay back your sleep debt, you are set to reap the benefits of a well-slept human: namely, increased confidence, improved memory, and a boosted immune system. How to get that, specifically? We’re glad you asked.

Still having problems falling asleep? Science suggests that you try cooling your room, wearing socks to bed, or Dr. Weil’s tried and true 4-7-8 Method. (2) You can also try unwinding with a body awareness meditation. We recommend trying a guided Yoga Nidra meditation for sleep, like this one from Insight Timer.

Because neglecting your drive to sleep can seriously affect your driving, your productivity, and your mood and relationships, we hope you will consider implementing change and paying back your sleep debt. (3) Don’t sabotage your ski trip or waste more than 2 hours of your day napping (on purpose or accident).

Napping can throw off your circadian rhythms, the very wise inner clock that allows for full rest, REM sleep,  and restores and heals your body when it’s allowed to work its magic. Once you get a sleep schedule, do your best not to sabotage it with a lengthy nap. (1) And if your body can’t settle into a comfortable position, or you toss and turn due to pain or discomfort please reach out to our office or contact a Chiropractor near you.

Here’s to your comfort and rest, and subsequent joy!



(1) See the full article from Harvard Medical School: Repaying Your Sleep Debt
(2) See 12 other suggestions on HuffPost: 15 Science-Backed Ways to Fall Asleep Faster
(3) Learn how ignoring sleep deficit invites trouble: Psychology Today: Are You Building Up Sleep Debt?