Repay your sleep debt
What is sleep debt?
If you haven’t heard about sleep debt it might be time to make sure yours is paid.
According to medical evidence, the optimum amount of sleep the average adult should be getting is about seven to nine hours a night.
Most people fall short of that goal, and every night you fail to pay your sleep account you fall into arrears and unfortunately there is no sleep bank that notifies you when your account goes into arrears.
The less aware you are of your debt the more debt you accumulate. Unfortunately, sleep debt cannot be settled by paying in a massive lump sum. Instead, your debt can only be settled by paying in instalments in addition to the daily payment you should be making.
In most cases we accumulate debt due to our inability to go to bed on time and wake up when we have slept enough i.e. without an alarm.
Another analogy, shown below, to express how sleep debt accumulates is by equating sleep with a bowl of water that you have to fill every night. The bowl has 56ml of water, which represents the hours of sleep you should be getting. Each ml represents an hour of sleep.
Daily 8ml (8 hours) evaporates, and nightly that 8ml should be replenished. If not, more water will evaporate than you are adding creating an ever increasing deficit, and sure by adding a slightly larger volume than usual a random night will only balance out the already diminished amount.
So how would you calculate your sleep debt?
To calculate your weekly sleep debt or deficit, you take the amount you should be sleeping per night time seven days a week.
8 x 7 = 58 hour you should be sleeping per week.
Let’s say you only sleep 4 hours per night. Times that by seven days a week.
4 x 7 = 28 of actual sleep.
Now subtract the you are getting from the amount you should be getting.
58 – 28 = 30 hours of sleep you are missing. This is you sleep debt.
You can go further and divide your debt by 8 (unit of days for sleep) to get the amount of days of sleep you are missing per week.
30 / 8 = 3.75 day’s worth of sleeping you are missing.
How do you catch up?
Settle short-term debt. If you missed 10 hours of sleep over the course of a week, add three to four extra sleep hours on the weekend and an extra hour or two per night the following week until you have repaid the debt fully.
Address a long-term debt. Plan a vacation with a light schedule and few obligations. Then, turn off the alarm clock and just sleep every night until you awake naturally.
Avoid backsliding into a new debt cycle. Once you’ve determined how much sleep you really need, factor it into your daily schedule. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day — at the very least, on weekdays.