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Sleep Debt

We all recognize that sleep is an essential part of how we feel each day. A bad night sleep can you’re your day, leave you exhausted, fatigued and in a fog. What we don’t often think about is how the cumulative effect of sleep loss impacts our health.

The loss of essential sleep, either due to a new work schedule or poor sleeping habits results in what is called “sleep debt.” Researchers have found that, getting one good night sleep after several days of poor sleep just isn’t enough. The hours of lost sleep pile up, accumulating like debt. The only way to pay it back is to invest more in sleep over a longer period.

There are other concerns with sleep debt besides the immediately obvious ones. Over a longer period of time, people have been shown to have a higher risk of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. It’s also likely to weaken your immune system. The addition loss of function and motor control significantly adds to your risk of having an accident, either while driving or a simple slip & fall.

You can start to accumulate sleep debt by depriving yourself of as little as 30-60 minutes of sleep a night. While this small amount can be corrected quicky, it can also add up just as quick. It’s rarely just one night, a new work schedule, studding for exams or preparing for a major life event… The days and times of sleep debt add up fast.

Take some time to evaluate your sleep needs, the amount you need and the times you naturally fall asleep & wake up. In the long term, knowing these facts about yourself can help you improve your health, mood and focus.

If you are having trouble sleeping, it may be time to seek professional help. Often the loss of sleep can be attributed to stress or a short-term issue, but other factors like trauma or grief can require more assistance to overcome. When in doubt, seek medical advice.

If you are in crisis, don’t hesitate – Call 911 or the National Crisis Hotline at: 1-800-273-8255.

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