We’re All in Debt…

Americans have a huge debt problem. And it has nothing to do with money.

Yeah, we all have college loans, car payments, mortgages. But that’s not the kind of debt I’m talking about. This kind of debt goes deeper than your bank account. It’s sleep debt, and Americans are racking up huge amounts of it.

Researchers believe that lack of sleep is cumulative, meaning every hour you miss here and there puts you deeper and deeper in debt. Missing out on even one hour, night after night, can add up to 30 hours of debt by the end of the month. Since it’s pretty hard to make up for 30 hours of sleep while maintaining our busy schedules, many Americans are sinking deeper and deeper into debt… and poor health.

The repercussions of sleep debt are serious, with long term side effects including an increased risk for weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and memory loss. In the short term, cortisol and blood pressure levels go up, there is increased insulin resistance and immune function diminishes. Your body repairs and replenishes during deep sleep, so if you’re missing out, your body isn’t getting a chance to rest and recuperate. You’ll feel tired, foggy, sluggish, forgetful and sleepy. Unfortunately, for many of us, we have been ditching sleep for so long these feelings have become our modus operandi. Sleep debt is a real thing, and you need to be aware of how much you’ve got stocked up in your banks.

Think coffee can mask your sleep problems? Think again. While coffee can make you feel more alert, its benefits will turn against you after a few days.

In research, participants were given either plain or caffeine-infused gum to chew after sleeping only 5 hours a night for five nights total. Participants chewed the gum at 8am and noon each day. Researchers found that, while the caffeine group had stronger reaction times and felt happier the first couple of days, after three days of limited sleep those given caffeine no longer reaped benefits. In fact, they were sleepier and more irritated than those who hadn’t been receiving any caffeine at all. What did they conclude? “After three nights of bad sleep, caffeine stopped boosting alertness, performance, and mood.”

Sure, you can miss out on a night of sleep and caffeine will have your back. But, after three nights, your lack of shut eye will trump even the most potent of  hard core cold brews. Your need for sleep will override the dedicated efforts of your old pal, Joe.

Sleep debt is cumulative and can slowly wreck your system, no matter how much coffee you drink. If you are consistenetly getting less than 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night, stop fooling yourself. Coffee won’t help. The only thing that will make you feel better is sleep, and a lot of it.

So how can you repay your debts? When you can, wake up without an alarm clock. Take full advantage of holidays and weekends, and make sure to get to bed early whenever you can, making time for an extra 2 or 3 hours of shut-eye every night. Yes, you might end up sleeping for 10 hours, but that is a sure sign that your body desperately needed the sleep. Once you start waking up naturally after 7 to 9 hours, your body is likely reaching its sleep equilibrium. Congrats! You’ve caught up on sleep! From there, it’s all about simple maintenance of 7 to 9 hours a night to make sure you don’t slide into debt again.

Debt is never good thing. Promote your wellbeing and get yourself out of sleep debt, one night at a time. It will beat a strong cup of coffee anyday.

Related:

Sticking to Your Diet Is About More Than Willpower
It’s Time to Purge Your Junk!
Being Exhausted Is Not Normal

130 comments

Gino C
Gabriel C1 months ago

Many thanks

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Gino C
Gabriel C1 months ago

Many thanks

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W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thanks.

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William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

thanks

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federico bortoletto

Grazie della condivisione.

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Co L.
Co L2 years ago

Sleeping 8 hrs is supposed to be the best but it doesn't work for all people. During times when my sister and I are 'caught up' on sleep, if we sleep for more than 6 and half hours at one time, maybe 7, we wake up feeling more tired than not, and it lasts all day. My grandfather really can't sleep for more than 4 hours straight without taking a waking break. It's common for some people to, while still needing the same total hours of daily sleep, need to break it up into small sections. Before electric lights and widespread use of long lasting oil lamps, people used to sleep for 4 hours, starting at sundown, and then take a 2-4 hour waking break, and then sleep again for 4 hours until they had to get up for work. And in many countries daily naps were, and still are, common. I would love for many jobs to offer a schedule option for that (like a morning part time shift and then a late afternoon part time shift so there will be a few hours in the middle) and YES to a 4 day work week! I have Seriously considered the 10 hr 4 day work week option just to be able to get 3 days off on weekends. If I owned a business, it would pay you the same amount you get for 8 hrs a day/5 days a week, in 8 hrs a day 4 days a week! This needs to be a thing!

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Nina S.
Nina S2 years ago

ty

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