Debt is never a good thing – especially sleep debt. “Sleep debt or sleep deficit is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. A large sleep debt may lead to mental or physical fatigue.” Medical research suggests that for better health and functioning, getting seven to nine hours of sleep every day is non-negotiable. Anything less and you could find yourself paying the hefty dues of sleep debt. This can throw your body out of equilibrium, making you low on energy and irritable. In some cases, sleep debt results from suffering insomnia or other sleep disorders, which require proper medical attention. Mostly, sleep debt can be solved by tweaking your habits! Scroll down to see how.
1. Schedule Power Naps
Naps are way more useful than we think. A well timed power nap can help rejuvenate your mind and body completely, and jumpstart you to get back into your day. It’s all about the right timing though. Napping for too long in the afternoon can affect the quality of your sleep at night. 20 minutes of shut eye is ideal to let your body and mind relax. Naps help you wake up feeling more alert rather than groggy and tense.
2. Track Your Time
Your bedtime dictates how well you’re likely to sleep. Sleeping late one night inevitably leads to waking up tired and unrested, and then falling asleep late again the next night, and so on. Make sleeping early a habit, so you can wake up at a regular, more standard time. Don’t forget to track how long you sleep for on average, because this will help you estimate the minimum amount of rest you need. Prepare a sleeping schedule and stick to it religiously. If you find it hard to follow strict timings, set bed time reminders on your phone or download apps that are designed to help you create a completely customised sleeping schedule.
3. Ensure A Calm Sleep Environment
You may not realise it but your surroundings affect how well you sleep. A calm and peaceful environment always results in better, less disturbed sleep that leaves you feel refreshed and energised. A dark and quiet room are two undeniable necessities, and are to sleep what salt is to food. Without them, it’s just not the same. A cool room also makes for steadier sleep than a warm one. Make sure to minimise or keep electronic devices and phones away from your sleeping spot.
4. Create Healthier Habits Around Sleeping
Once you figure out the times and average length of sleep that work for you, start working on certain other daily habits to achieve your goal. Prepare and eat dinner well before when you’re meant to go to bed. If exercising after work delays your dinner and bedtime, swap it for a morning work out slot. These simple adjustments will help pay off your sleep debt without you even realising.
5. Get Your Caffeine Kick The Right Way
We all have a slight dependence on coffee, especially to get our mornings going. Most of us usually follow that up with a second dose, just to get us through the midday slump! Caffeine blocks the signal for adenosine – a central nervous system neuro-modulator with specific receptors that facilitate sleep and dilates blood vessels. We recommend having coffee just before a short nap to wake up feeling more refreshed, and to stay active throughout the day. Don’t have it too late in the day though, because it could interfere with the consistency of your sleep at night.
6. Make The Most Of Your Weekend
Weekends are for sleeping! Forget the snooze button — turn the entire alarm off. If this isn’t a mantra you follow, it’s time to start. It’s hard to catch up on sleep during the week day when you have long hours at work, early mornings, social commitments, and deadlines to meet. Thankfully, you can reward yourself with rest during the weekend. Go to bed on time (yes, even on a Saturday) and wake up when your body is ready to function, instead of setting an alarm. This may not be the best way to pay off your sleep debt, but definitely works for the short term until you develop a a healthier routine.