How to calculate your sleep debt plus tips to fix it
What you need to know:
- Sleep debt refers to the accumulated amount of sleep a person misses and happens when one consistently fails to get as much sleep as they need.
- Significant sleep debt leads to loss of attentiveness at work or in school, lack of focus on tasks, and memory issues which affect productivity
Did you know that sleep affects your productivity? That's right. This is not just about the ability to focus on tasks but also the quality of work. What does this then mean for your job, business, or school work?
If you want to be productive, get enough sleep. If not, the cumulative effect can cause fatigue and make it harder to function properly, leading to lower performance levels and a higher risk of accidents.
Sleep debt refers to the accumulated amount of sleep a person misses and happens when one consistently fails to get as much sleep as they need. The more sleep you lose, the higher your debt will be. This can lead to poor concentration, mood swings, and health issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
You may also start to feel tired during the day, leading to a lack of productivity at work and lower output levels overall.
It is important to determine how much sleep you need to feel refreshed and ready for the day. Once you know how much sleep you need, make sure that you are getting enough sleep at night - even on weekends!
How to calculate your sleep debt
If you know the amount of sleep you need per night, you can calculate your sleep debt. First, note how many hours you slept that particular night and subtract from the hours you usually need.
You can then use the sleep debt information to determine how many extra hours of sleep you need the next night to get back on track with repaying your debt.
For example, if you need eight hours of sleep but yesterday you slept for 5 hours, then you have a three-hour sleep debt. You will need to sleep an extra three hours today for your body to recover. You can also stagger the extra hours you need over a few days.
Effects of accumulated sleep debt
Not getting enough sleep can increase your susceptibility to illness
Significant sleep debt leads to loss of attentiveness at work or in school, lack of focus on tasks, and memory issues which affect productivity
You may feel depressed more often than usual or experience an increase in mood swings which can affect your relationships with coworkers, boss, and family.
A lack of sleep can lead to overeating and weight problems. In some cases, there is even the possibility of developing high blood pressure.
Ways to reduce your sleep debt
Take a restorative nap
During the day, take a nap for around 20 minutes to help refresh your brain and improve concentration. This is beneficial, especially for lactating mothers with toddlers who keep them awake at night.
Go to bed earlier
If you can, go to sleep a little earlier each night until you are back on track with the recommended amount of hours for adequate sleep.
Wake up late on your days off
If you don't have to get up early for work or on your days off, try to sleep in until the recommended time each morning.
Tips for getting a good night's rest
Increase physical activity throughout the day
Exercise has been shown to help improve mood and concentration, leading to a better quality of sleep at night.
Avoid stimulating activities before bed
Do not exercise, watch TV, or use your phone/laptop just before you go to sleep. These can stimulate your brain and body, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Take a warm bath
A nice, relaxing hot bath an hour or two before going to bed helps your body relax and fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine can interfere with sleep quality by causing restless, fitful sleep. Alcohol may make you fall asleep quickly, but it will disrupt your REM ( Rapid Eye Movement) cycle throughout the night leading to poor restfulness and a higher chance of waking up in the morning feeling tired.
Create a bedtime routine and follow it
Keeping a routine will help your body get into the habit of falling asleep at specific hours and waking up in the morning. As a result, your body will know that it needs sleep to take care of itself.
If you have a sleep disorder, try establishing the cause and solve it. You can use natural sleep aid such as meditation, essential oils, breathing exercises, and beverages to enhance sleep. If these do not help, consult your doctor.