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Can you make up for sleep debt or lost sleep?

Can you ever repay your sleep debt, the accumulative affect of not getting enough sleep? The truth is there is no straight forward yes or no answer because it depends on the amount of sleep lost. If only a few hours, then maybe. If you’re trying to make up for years of lost sleep, those hours are likely gone forever.

More than one third of Americans are considered sleep deprived, that is, they get less than the average eight-hours of sleep per night. While not everyone requires eight hours, those who do and do not get it are sleep deprived. As a matter of fact, getting less than six hours of quality sleep per night can also leave you in sleep debt.

A deprivation of sleep has been known to lead to a plethora of health issues. Aside from feeling groggy, lack of sleep can also be responsible for diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Prolonged sleep deprivation can affect cognitive function and memory.

There are some, however, who say that it is possible to gain back some that lost sleep, but it may not be the same quality. Larger amounts of lost sleep, say more than a couple of hours, are unlikely to be recovered.

A common way sleep deprived people try to recover those lost Z’s is by sleeping in on weekends, a method a 2019 study did not find beneficial. They noted that an extra hour of sleep on weekends did not prevent weight gain or reduce insulin sensitivity.

Professionals recommend keeping a set sleep schedule and developing a nightly routine of bedtime habits to help get those much needed quality sleep hours. Other studies have shown that the color of the light bulb in your bedroom can play a role in sleep.

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