Monday, December 5

To what extent can we make up for lost sleep?

On average, we spend a third of our lives sleeping. Sleeping is a fundamental activity because it allows you to restore physical and psychological balance. It is estimated that the ideal sleep timewhich varies from person to person, is what allows us to carry out daily activities normally.

Something that at first glance seems so simple to achieve, it is not for many people. In Spain, according to the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN), between 20-48% of the adult population have difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, and in at least 10% of cases it is due to some chronic and severe sleep disorder.

What is a quality sleep

When duration, continuity and depth, that is, the time we spend sleeping is adequate, we can say that our quality of sleep is good. The US National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep seven to nine hours every nightalthough a person’s sleep needs vary based on factors such as age.

numerous studies suggest that a good rest benefits our physical, mental and emotional health. When we constantly sacrifice the duration and continuity of our sleep, we lose the vital characteristics of healthy sleep.

We also begin to owe our body the remaining hours of sleep that we have lost. It is what is known as dream debta burden that we will hardly be able to pay.

What is sleep debt?

When the amount of sleep we get is not what we need, we talk about sleep deficit or sleep debt. If, under normal conditions, a person needs to sleep eight hours but only sleeps six, his sleep debt will be two hours.

if we sleep six hours from Monday to Friday, and we calculate seven hours of healthy sleep, by Saturday we will have accumulated five hours of lost sleep: this will be our sleep debt. A debt that, moreover, is cumulative, so if we sleep less than normal for several nights in a row, the problem can get progressively worse.

When this happens, we can feel tired to carry out any work or leisure activity, it can even increase the risk of suffering from certain diseases. Sleep deprivation is also associated with reduced immune function, with weight gain and increased risk of falls, and affects memory and cognitive functions.

Since lack of sleep can have negative health consequences, it makes sense to think about how we can make up for lost sleep. The studies show that people with chronic debt (those who rarely meet their need for sleep) are at increased risk of weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or dementia.

Can I recover the dream debt?

We may think that if we stay in bed all Saturday to catch up on lost sleep all week, we’re at peace with our debt. But science assures that this is not really the case. For example, a study suggests that a week’s catch-up sleep is not enough to make up for ten days of partial deprivation.

Other research also concludes that up to four days of sleep would be needed to recover completely out of debt for an hour’s sleep. In other study On dream debt recovery, experts conclude that it is much easier said than done.

The research is based on observation for 21 days of healthy adults: four days of normal life, ten days of partial sleep deprivation and seven days of recovery. Brain activity was measured each day and they were given cognitive tasks to complete each day.

The experts noted a deterioration in all measures during the sleep-restricted phase. After seven days of recovery and additional sleep, only the reaction time measure returned to normal levels. The others, like memory and accuracy, did not.

Despite all this, it is not all bad news because research also makes it clear that it is not necessary to pay for every lost hour, but that it will be enough to go to bed regularly at a time that allows us sleep at least seven hours each night.

Tips for sleeping and catching up

To compensate for sleep loss, it is important to sleep more than we need to sleep. These sleeping habits They will help us:

  • Keep a fixed schedule to go to bed and get up, including on weekends: constantly changing schedules increases the risk of sleep problems.
  • Stay in bed just long enough to our needs, neither more nor less. Overdoing it can fragment our sleep and make it lighter.
  • avoid watching televisionreading or listening to music in bed: the brain has to associate the bedroom with sleep.
  • Do light exercise at least one hour a day, if it can be in the afternoon and less than three hours before going to sleep.
  • Follow a daily routine before going to bed (brush our teeth, put on our pajamas, etc.).
  • Avoid drinking beverages with caffeine in the afternoon because they disturb sleep, as well as alcohol and tobacco.
  • Maintain a temperature in bedroom pleasant, with low levels of light and noise.
  • It is recommended to go to bed after two hours from dinner to prevent meals from disturbing sleep.

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