What is sleep debt and why should you care about it?

Sleeping dog

What is sleep debt?

Sleep has been a popular topic in the clinic this past year.

Just last week alone, I’ve worked with four patients who have sleep issues as their primary concern, and quite a few others where it is one of their secondary concerns.

One concept I often discuss with patients is sleep debt and why it’s important.

Imagine this: your body is your energy bank.

Whenever you are sleeping, you are putting a deposit into your bank account of energy.

Whenever you are awake, going about your day, you are making withdrawals from your account.

When you lose sleep, you are now borrowing against your account, and not only do you have to pay that back, you have to pay interest on it as well, to be optimally healthy.

Now you have a sleep debt.

Why should you care about sleep debt?

Because sooner or later, all debts catch up with you.

In this case, it’ll catch up with you in mood changes, lack of focus, disrupted digestion, hormone imbalance, and the list goes on.

We have a tendency to think about all hours of sleep being equal in a one-to-one ratio.

If you lost 1 hour of sleep, then no big deal – you only need to get one more hour the next night, right?

Mayybbee… if this was the only night you lost an hour.

But if your sleep issues have been going on for awhile, paying back that interest looks more like needing 2-3 hours of sleep to recover from every 1 hour lost.

So what do you do about it?

I tell you this not to be all doom and gloom, but rather two things I really want to convey to you.

First, be gentle and patient with yourself as you are trying to recover your sleep. It’s not going to be fixed in one night.

Second, you will probably need to look at several aspects in how you are approaching your sleep recovery…

  • Firmly, but lovingly, be honest with yourself about your pre-bedtime rituals. Is there something you know you need to change?
    Are you going to bed on time? Do you really need to stay up to watch the news? Do you really need that glass of wine?
  • Do you need more support? Acupuncture (click here to book an appointment), meditation, and massage are all great additions to help you sleep.
  • Do you have an undiagnosed medical sleep condition? If you’ve never had your sleep medically evaluated, that could be something to consider.

Next, we’ll talk about how much sleep you need and whether naps are helpful or not.  Click here to read more.

You might also like: https://threewellsclinic.com/sleep-frustrations/

Here’s to a good night sleep!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.   See my disclaimer.

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