Sleep Debt: The Consequences of Insufficient Rest

November 5, 2023
Tired professional man sitting at desk

Monetary debt can be stressful and burdensome, but there are other types of debt that can come with even heavier consequences. Sleep debt is one of them. If you consistently fail to get enough high-quality sleep, your health, relationships, and overall quality of life could suffer. What exactly is sleep debt, and how can you get back in the black? This blog post explains.

What Is Sleep Debt?

Simply put, sleep debt occurs whenever you do not get the rest your body needs. For example, if you feel your best when you get 8 hours of sleep, but you only get six hours on a given night, you now have two hours of sleep debt. If you sleep for six hours five days out of the week, you have accumulated ten hours of sleep debt.

Sleeping in on the weekend might mitigate some sleep debt, but it really is not enough. In fact, it can take several days to fully recover from a lack of sleep. You must consistently get an adequate amount of sleep if you want to feel and function your best.

Why Is Getting Enough Sleep So Important?

Consistently failing to get enough rest can lead to some serious consequences:

  • You may be irritable or suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
  • Your relationships with other people may suffer.
  • You will be at a greater risk of numerous health problems, such as heart attack, diabetes, obesity, and reduced immune function.
  • You will be more likely to be involved in accidents.

How Can You Avoid Sleep Debt?

Sleep debt can not really be repaid, but it can be avoided. Here are some tips that might help:

  • Stick to a schedule. If circumstances allow, try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Take an afternoon nap. Even dozing off for 30 minutes or less in the afternoon can significantly reduce fatigue.
  • Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine and other stimulants can keep you up at night; try to stop drinking coffee before noon.
  • Learn healthy coping skills. Some people incur sleep debt because they suffer from anxiety or other emotional disturbances. Mental health care may be necessary to help you get into a healthy sleep routine.
  • Keep a sleep diary. Tracking how much you sleep every night, how you feel when you wake up, and other factors that can affect your sleep routine may give you insight into how you can avoid sleep debt.
  • Consider the possibility that you have a sleep disorder. If you make an effort to sleep for 7 – 8  hours each night and still feel exhausted, you might have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. A doctor can help you arrange for testing and treatment.

Sleep debt is a serious problem! Do all you can to get an adequate amount of rest each night.

Meet the Practice

Dr. Kenneth Mogell is board-certified in dental sleep medicine. He specializes in helping patients find relief from obstructive sleep apnea via oral appliance therapy. If you always feel tired, our team can assess the situation and recommend your next steps. Get in touch with us via our website or call our Boca Raton office at 561-353-5252.