The amount of sleep you get can seriously impact your health. Sleep debt is an epidemic. We find ourselves busier than ever, working late nights and pulling “all-nighters” usually with nothing more than several cups of coffee to stave off the exhaustion and fatigue. In our fast-paced lives, we often forget the important of rest and sleep and the consequences, like sleep debt can be very detrimental to our productivity, but most of all our health. What is sleep debt, and how can you prevent it from happening? Read on to find out more.
What Is Sleep Debt?
Sleep debt is the accumulated lack of sleep over time. While you may not feel the effects of sleep debt early on, you should be aware that it stacks up over time, like monetary debt. You’ll feel the effects of sleep debt eventually, and they’ll only worsen over time. Sleep debt affects almost all systems in the body.
It can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. It can cause grogginess and, at its greater extreme, spontaneous “microsleeps,” where you slip out of consciousness for a short time—you spend a second or two “asleep.” And we know how dangerous it can be if you “microsleep” while driving. For these reasons, we should try and prevent sleep debt from happening at all. Fortunately if we cultivate a few good habits it will help to avoid sleep debt happening at all.
Watch Your Caffeine Intake
Watch your caffeine intake, I get it we all love coffee but too much coffee is not good for you. Experts say we shouldn’t drink caffeine eight hours before sleeping because caffeine has a half-life. It’ll keep you awake well past bedtime if you drink it too late in the afternoon. If you are a coffee addict, commit to not drinking caffeine after the early afternoon, and certainly not in the evening. Replace it with the decaf version or a herbal tea. Remember that tea and green tea also have caffeine so you may want to reduce your consumption of both also.
reduce screen time
Ideally you want to turn off all electronics and lights at least 30-90 minutes before sleeping. This encourages melatonin production, which helps you fall asleep. Phones and tablets are held closer to your face so this has a worse affect than the TV for example. Consider using a blue light filter to minimise the affects.
Get Exercise during the day
According to the John Hopkins Foundation, exercise reduces the chance of insomnia and improves your quality of sleep. But try not to exercise in the evening because this may negatively affect your chances of failing asleep.
rest during the day
If you are in a busy and stressful period in work sometimes overworking is unavoidable and the manic pace can affect your sleep. Take more breaks and rest during the day. If you are going to be working late anyway taking breaks will increase your productivity and allow you to work longer into the evening and night. When we manage our energy better during the day we will avoid being overtired or wired when we try to go to bed at night.
Make your bed
Make your bed when you get out of it in the morning, a clean made bed will help you to relax more easily when you get into to it. Did you know even your bedsheets can prevent sound sleep? Fresh cotton sheets might help to achieve that deep sleep you are looking for.
Ask for help
If you are suffering from sleep debt because you have had a new baby or your are looking after someone who is ill, ask for help, you need a night or two off to recover. Sleep debt is not sustainable and will take its toll on your productivity and performance at work and your health and home life.
Overall, don’t neglect lack of sleep, take responsibility for finding out why you are not sleeping and do something about it, help is out there.