How to Get Rid of Sleep Debt
Sleep Debt: What is it and how do you get rid of it? Sleep debt is when you get less sleep than your body needs. This affects 1 in 3 Americans. Having sleep debt can increase your risk for diseases and other health problems. So, if sleep debt is such an issue, how can we get rid of it? This blog is geared towards helping you recover and get your sleep back.
The Side Affects Of Sleep Debt
How do you know when you’re in sleep debt? The most obvious sign is if you haven’t gotten enough sleep. The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. If we don’t reach our 7-9 hours, it can take up to four days to recover from every hour lost.
Personally, I was shocked at how greatly sleep can affect your body. Did you know that loss of sleep can cause a weakened immune system, weight gain, skin / acne problems, mood swings and irritability? Some other possible side effects include high blood pressure, poor balance, trouble with concentration, thinking, memory recall and even puts you at a higher risk for things like diabetes and heart disease.
Your sleeping environment is the first step in improving the quality of your sleep. This means you should keep in mind the room temperature, lighting, and other similar features.
Experts recommend keeping your room temperature around 68 degrees – year ’round. This keeps your room cool – not too hot and not too cold. This will also help you determine how best to outfit your bed (lots of blankets / comforter or lighter blankets).
When it comes to lighting, try to have your room completely dark, or add a subtle, warm light (like a night-light) out of your direct eye sight. By keeping the room darker, it helps your body’s circadian rhythm. That means that it trains your body to understand that dark = sleep and light = awake. Black-out curtains are a great way to ensure your room stays dark.
If your room still doesn’t feel juuussstttt right, try adding a diffuser with calming scents like lavender, bergamot, chamomile, and geranium. For some, a humidifier can also help (especially if you sleep with your mouth open / snore, are feeling sick, have allergies, or your air is on the drier side).
When setting up your ideal sleeping environment, you will also want to consider your bed, bedding, and bedtime routine. All of these things will contribute to your sleep quality and help you get rid of sleep debt.
Did you know that you should rotate your mattress every 3 months or more? It’s true! By rotating your mattress, you keep the wear even. It can prevent lumps and dips in the mattress. This is even true with newer style mattress, like memory foam. Furthermore, when it comes to your mattress, pay attention to how it feels. It might be time to add a mattress topper or replace the mattress all together! Generally, mattresses have a 6-8 year lifespan. Many factors can contribute to this. (Pssst: Keep your eyes out for a blog on this in April).
Having the right blankets and pillows will also be crucial for your sleep. Pillows affect your head and neck posture while you sleep. Choosing the right pillow based on your primary sleeping position helps keep your neck and head in the ideal position. When planning your sheets / bedding, always start with a high-quality fitted sheet. It’s your choice on whether you want a flat sheet or not based on your blanket preference. Some choose to forego the flat sheet for comfort or aesthetic.
Regardless of flat sheet or not, add your next layer. Once you have your “base,” start adding more pieces based on your preference. Keep in mind how you sleep at night – warm or cold. Some people will go to bed cold and wake up hot, or vice versa. If this is you, consider adding some breathable, lightweight pieces in the layers closest to you and then add more, like a comforter or heavy blanket, on the top. These are usually easier to fold down. However, with the right comforter, you could achieve the same results by reversing that order.
Now that you’ve perfected your sleeping environment and made your bed just how you like it, let’s talk about your bedtime routine. Having a consistent schedule for yourself will help your body and brain learn muscle memory and wind down for sleep.
This routine looks a little different for everyone. An example of a good bedtime sleep routine would be: Wash Face, Brush Teeth, Use the Restroom, and Read a Book for 10-20 minutes. Try keeping your routine simple and easy to remember. This can be a great time to implement good habits. Be sure to avoid too much screen time, loud / distracting music, and late-afternoon / evening naps. It is also best to limit food or drink before bedtime. This especially pertains to alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol wears off as you sleep, making you restless due to dehydration, sweating, headaches, need to urinate, and other symptoms. Caffeine after 12PM can keep you awake later in the day, making it harder to go to sleep.
Ready For A Good Night’s Sleep?
By improving your sleeping environment, bed and bedding, and your bedtime routine, you can avoid sleep debt and enjoy a good night’s sleep.