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May 01, 2019 22:27:17

Sleep Debt

by @hiro | 327 words | 🐣 | 347💌


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Total posts: 347💌
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Sleep debt or sleep deficit is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. A large sleep debt may lead to mental or physical fatigue. –wikipedia

This term "sleep debt" was prposed by Professor William C. Dement at Sanford. Nobody likes "debt" in any area. I think this is a good naminig to alarmingly emphasize how important to have sufficient sleep.

Today I would like to explain about the concept of sleep debt and how difficult to return this debt. 

Why it is a problem?

One of the trick characteristics for sleep debt is that we tend not to recognize this cumulative sleep debt. We might think we sleep sufficiently everyday and there is no sleep issue. However, there might be a chance that you do have slightly lower than you need everyday. That difference would be accumulated like a snow ball of financial debt with interest. Without our noticing, our performance of work or chore jobs are decreased. In the worst case, you might be dead due to the mistakes or sickness trigered by lack of sleep. 

One research by University of Pennsylvania (The cumulative cost of additional wakefulness) showed one intriging result: 

  • The performance of those who stay over the night dropped sharply
  • The performance of those who sleep less (6 hours) everyday for 2 weeks eventually became equivalent to the one of those who stay over the night on the 2nd day.

How to detect sleep debt?

It is actually difficult but if you need to sleep a lot on weekend or your days off, this could be the indicator of sleep debt. Your brain and body thrive to return the sleep debt cumulated during the weekdays. 

To test it, you should sleep in a completely dark room without PC or smartphones' screen. When you wake up but still feel like sleepy, sleep again until it goes away. If you observe the increase of sleep time more than 2 hours, you need to re-consider your sleep schedule. 


  • 1

    @hiro What is different about sleep debt compared to all other debt is that it actually cannot be paid back. The idea of having inadequate sleep during the week and then "making up for it" on the weekend does not work. Even one day of inadequate sleep is enough to negatively impact your brain and body function. The best way to correct a night of bad sleep is to focus on getting good sleep the next night. The day does not begin then you wake up. The day begins when you go to sleep the night before.

    Brandon Wilson avatar Brandon Wilson | May 02, 2019 07:27:48
    • 1

      @hiro @brandonwilson <<The day begins when you go to sleep the night before.>>
      That is so true!!! Never heard it so well phrased!

      Lucjah avatar Lucjah | May 08, 2019 19:26:15
    • 1

      @brandonwilson True, it is not easy to pay back. If sticking to the analogy, I could say this is so high interest like loan shark so that it is difficult to pay back...and unfortunately all of us equally do not have a bulk cash. We only have a basic income = less than 24 hours at maximum :)

      Hiro avatar Hiro | May 08, 2019 12:45:52
  • 1

    @hiro Thanks for the great writeup.

    Philipp Haidenbauer avatar Philipp Haidenbauer | May 02, 2019 07:44:24
    • 1

      @phaidenbauer good to hear. I hope you do not have a sleep debt.

      Hiro avatar Hiro | May 09, 2019 00:16:04
    • 1

      @hiro I probably have a small one, but I'm working on it :)

      Philipp Haidenbauer avatar Philipp Haidenbauer | May 09, 2019 09:57:11
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