The term refers to the difference between
amount of sleep a person actually gets versus what their body needs,
and this debt can continue
to accumulate and lead to much more serious
are many different reasons why a person may begin to develop a sleep
deficit, some short term, and some more of a long lasting
associated with job, family, or lifestyle. Of course, insomnia and most
other sleeping disorders can definitely lead to an individual having a
large sleep deficit; however this is still not the case for the
majority of individuals with a sleep debt.
most cases, the deficit
has to do with our modern
lifestyle, whether it be work, school, or
family that keeps a person awake late into the night and requires them
to wake up again when the alarm goes off in the morning. In truth, a
person should go to sleep when they feel tired and not wake up again
until their body is rested and decides it is time to wake up, no matter
how long that takes.
technology has only increased the problem, with twenty four hour
entertainment readily available, many people find themselves occupied
on the internet on computers or watching television until far past the
time when they should be sleeping.
many people debate whether
we are actually getting less sleep than we used to, there is not much
debate as to how the
artificial lights from television or computers can
negatively affect the quality of sleep a person gets, causing their
brain to be more active and resulting in less time spent in the later
stages of sleep where the real rest and regeneration occurs.
Problems Associated With Sleep Debt
lack of sufficient sleep can cause many
short term problems such as a
constant feeling of being tired, fatigued, or lethargic, trouble
concentrating or remembering, impaired coordination and motor skills,
blurred or foggy vision, and a whole host of other issues.
of sleep can of course cause a person to feel tired and unmotivated, it
can also lead to much more serious health issues as well. A big enough
sleep deficit can even be fatal eventually, as humans cannot live for
more than two weeks without sleep. This makes it almost as important to
overall health and well-being as food and water. Some of the more
serious long term consequences of sleep debt can include:
- Resistance to
Insulin and Diabetes
have shown that a prolonged lack of sleep can eventually cause
the body to start to become resistant to insulin, which can eventually
lead to diabetes.
sleep can also cause the body’s metabolism to slow to dangerous levels,
which will cause the person to easily gain weight and be at a high risk
for becoming obese.
- High Blood Pressure and Heart
have also found a link between sleep deficit and heart
disease, which, along with diet, could help to account for the large
rise in heart problems over the past few decades. Studies have also
shown that people who sleep too little also normally have higher blood
pressure than those who get enough sleep.
factor is that a lack
of sleep results in increased production of the stress hormone
cortisol, which can also result in high blood pressure and heart
results of several studies are still being debated, some scientists
have claimed that lowered levels of the protein orexin, which helps to
control waking and falling asleep and is produced only during sleep,
could be a significant factor in a person developing Alzheimer’s
disease later on in life.
studies have also shown that people who get too little sleep also
suffer from a weakened immune system, as their bodies begin to produce
almost half as many antibodies as a normal, healthy person’s. This can
lead to a person becoming much more susceptible to diseases and
infections, and is why people often get sick when they have not been
it Possible to Repay Your Sleep Debt?
This is a question that
has been hotly debated
by sleep scientists, although the consensus now seems to be that yes,
you can repay your sleep deficit, but it is extremely difficult. If a
person gets one hour too little of sleep each night, over the course of
a year this can amount to weeks’ worth of missed sleep, which can cause long term health
problems, as mentioned above.
studies have shown that the only real way to repay a sleeping debt
is to make up for every
hour missed with an extra hour of sleep. This
means that if you missed five hours of sleep because of a stressful
work week, then you will need to sleep an extra five hours during the
weekend, which is obviously much easier said than done. Still,
repaying this short term debt is much easier than trying to regain
weeks or even years worth of lost sleep.
only way to really recover from a long term sleep deficit is to
begin to go to bed at an earlier hour and then sleep until your
internal clock says it’s time to get up, without the help of an alarm
this will allow the body to develop a
sleeping pattern and begin to regain all of the lost sleep. Still,
because of professional responsibilities, most
people cannot do this, so many doctors recommend taking a long, stress
free vacation, and dedicating as much time as possible to
to Causes of Sleep
to the Snoring