World Sleep Day: Everything you should know about sleep debt
Here's another kind of debt you should steer clear of. This year, March 17 is observed as World Sleep Day, promoting sleep as a key to good health. However, while we all are aware of its importance already, most of us usually live in a sleep debt or complete deprivation, both of which tarnish our well-being. Here's all you should know about sleep debt.
What is sleep debt?
Sleep debt is when you do not get sufficient sleep for a series of days. The lost sleep keeps piling on until it manifests into a massive fallout. For instance, if you are sleeping only for six hours a day for five days instead of completing your eight hours cycle each time, you are in a sleep debt of (2 x 5) 10 hours.
What are the factors leading you to sleep debt?
One of the major causes of sleep debt is stress. Concerns about work, family, relationships, or finances can keep you awake even when your body wants to sleep. Overwhelming travel or work schedules can also damage the functioning of your internal clock responsible for sleeping and waking. Addictions (social media or drugs), wrong eating habits, and improper sleeping routines are other important causes.
Signs and symptoms you may experience
Signs and symptoms of sleep debt include constant yawning and falling asleep anywhere, anytime. You may also feel groggy while waking up or experience a decline in your motor dexterity (sleep inertia) throughout the day. Some may even experience headaches, vision problems, head tightness or lightness, dizziness, daytime fatigue, anxiety, memory problems, issues with concentration, and mood swings (mostly irritable).
Consequences of sleep debt
When you are in a sleep debt (also called sleep deficit), you may have to face a host of physical and mental consequences. Your immunity may weaken and you may become more susceptible to various diseases. Long-term sleep debts can result in severe conditions like obesity, heart-related problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many cardiovascular ailments.
How to avoid sleep debt?
Try to make up for the lost sleep by sleeping more during the weekends. This can help you overcome your deficit one session at a time. And while you do that, refrain from distractions like lights or noises that can hinder your sleep cycle. It is also helpful to do some breathing exercises at night as it can promote restful sleep.