Sleep debt is classified as “the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep” by Wikipedia. Many students here at this school are often bombarded by their extracurricular, academic, and social activities – which lead to more time working, less time resting; and less time sleeping. You may think missing an hour or two of sleep every now and then is fine, but . . ., but over time, you gain what is called sleep debt.

This is when you sleep fewer hours than your body needs, this becomes sleep debt. Your body simply wants more sleep, but you’re not giving it the hours it needs. As the word debt suggests, it stays there until it is ‘paid off’ in hours. For example, if your body requires seven hours of sleep, and you only achieve four hours, you have a sleep debt of 3 hours. If you continue to do this for the next week, you have a sleep debt of 21 hours. If you do this for the entire ten weeks, you have a sleep debt of 210 hours. It’s simple maths.

Having high sleep debt over time threatens your health, affecting how easily you are able to recover from injuries, low energy throughout the day and most importantly, it cripples your brain when storing new information. 

However, there are ways to combat sleep debt. The most obvious one is sleeping earlier, but many of us cannot afford that luxury. or perhaps we are just unable sleep earlier because of how our bodies are wired. There is a solution, albeit, somewhat of a botched one. 

Taking power or recovery naps can greatly reduce sleep debt when used strategically. Naps can make you feel more energetic, relieve fatigue, and help you focus better. But at the end of the day, naps are not supposed to be a substitute for sleep. They are simply something for the short run.

If you think you’re experiencing sleep debt, try your best to sleep earlier or wake up later when you can. Sleep is vital to our bodies, and it’s our job to ensure we take care of ourselves.

3rd May, 2024
Written by Emma Li, edited by Ally Chu and Aaron Huang
Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

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