Maybe you just pulled an all-nighter working some ridiculous shift or maybe you had to stay up and study for that super hard calculus test. You could even have a newborn screaming through the night or maybe you just binge-watched Hulu until the sun rose. No matter what, we all find ourselves losing sleep at some point in our busy lives. It is not always easy to prioritize sleep, but it is easy to tell yourself you’ll just make up for it later. But do those naps in front of the TV or going to bed an extra hour early really do the trick? Can you really catch up on sleep?
A recent study published by Harvard Medical School delved into the question. Researchers found that although sleep deprivation can have risky consequences, it is possible to catch up on sleep, but it is also difficult. When individuals don’t get the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, they accumulate what experts call “sleep debt”. And the greater the sleep debt, the worse the effects on an individual’s health and mental well-being. Early on, people can experience headaches, moodiness, impaired focus and fatigue. As sleep debt increases, individuals put themselves at increased risk for weight gain, memory loss, and even stroke. Not to mention the everyday risks associated with chronic fatigue, such as falling asleep at work or even at the wheel. So how does one manage to repay this debt?
Dr. Cathy Goldstein, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center, notes that you can’t make up for lost sleep hour by hour. In fact, research suggests that a person could need a whopping four days of adequate rest to compensate for even one hour of sleep debt. Harvard Medical School advises individuals to make up for short-term losses as soon as possible. If you miss a couple of hours of sleep during the week, begin to make up for them by sleeping extra on the weekend. However, if you find yourself with an extended lack of sleep, they suggest taking a break or maybe even a vacation. During this time you should plan a relaxing trip with few distractions and obligations and lots of free time. The alarm clock should be shut off and you should sleep freely for as long as you feel necessary. After a couple of days, the person should find themselves starting to feel better as their sleep debt decreases. Finally, the study notes that once one has caught up on sleep, they should develop a consistent sleep schedule to ensure they get enough sleep each day. This will keep them from falling back into sleep debt and constantly having to catch up.
If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep and want help regaining some of those lost hours, you can also look to Som Sleep. Drug free and non-habit forming, the sleep drink will help you drift off into a peaceful slumber and catch up on some of those missed hours. So, great news! You can catch up on sleep and it can be easier with Som Sleep!