The work week can be frantic and and a lot of people end up cutting back on their sleep to get everything done. At the end of it all, they can’t wait for the weekends to come. Finally, they can kick back for some well-deserved R&R to make up for the weekday hustle. Maybe even repay some of that sleep debt they’ve been racking up. But… is this actually possible? Can we make up for all the sleep we missed during the week weekdays by sleeping in on the weekends? Jacksonville Sleep Center, your Jacksonville sleep specialist, weighs in on the matter.

Your sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get. Every time you skim some extra minutes or hours off your night’s sleep, your sleep debt accumulates.

Effects of Excessive Sleep Debt

Studies have shown that short-term sleep deprivation causes:

  • Foggy brain
  • Worsened vision
  • Impaired driving
  • Diminished memory

Some long-term effects are:

  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Heart disease

The CDC reports that one third of Americans say that they’re getting less than the recommended amount of sleep.

Want to find out if you’re among the sleep-deprived? Try answering these questions from the National Sleep Foundation to help determine if you’re getting enough sleep:

  • Are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear?
  • Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease?
  • Are you experiencing sleep problems?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • Do you feel sleepy when driving?

You can also consult a Jacksonville sleep specialist for a more thorough evaluation.

What do you do if you’re among the sleep deprived?

The Good News

Here’s some good news, though. Sleep debt can be repaid… but not by “making up for it on the weekends.” It’s not going to be as easy as that, unfortunately.

So, how can you really repay sleep debt?

By making changes to your schedule to get more sleep on a nightly basis. Weekend sleep marathons to recoup sleep won’t work and aren’t sustainable. They can also throw off your schedule leading to more drowsy days and sleepless nights during the week. They won’t do anything if the underlying causes of sleep deprivation are still there during the weekdays. The problem will just continue on, unless real, sustainable changes are made.

Here are some methods that can work, if you make them part of your routine:

  • Tack an extra hour or two of sleep at night to catch up until you start to feel well-rested and ready to take on the day.
  • For those with long-term sleep deprivation, take it easy for a few months and focus on getting back into a natural sleep pattern.
  • Don’t get frustrated if you don’t notice immediate results. It could take months’ worth of work to get your sleep schedule and debt worked out.
  • Go to bed when you’re tired and let your body wake you naturally in the morning, without the use of an alarm clock.
  • Expect to be sleepy at the beginning of this sleep-recovery cycle. You might bank up to ten hours of sleep per night if your debt is that bad, but as the days go by, you’ll end up with more normal amounts of sleeping time.
  • Remember, it’s not just about the hours of sleep you’re getting. The intensity and quality really matter since the most refreshing sleep occurs when you’re in deep slumber. This is when your body and brain rejuvenate themselves.

Contact your Jacksonville Sleep Specialist

If you are having a hard time addressing your sleep debt, contact Jacksonville Sleep Center today to schedule a sleep consultation. We can work with you to help you get the sleep you need. To schedule your consultation, call 904.854.6899.