The good news is that Scientific American says like all debt, with some work, sleep debt can be repaid—though it won’t happen in one extended snooze marathon.
Tacking on an extra hour or two of sleep a night is the way to catch up. For the chronically sleep deprived, take it easy for a few months to get back into a natural sleep pattern, says Lawrence J. Epstein,
medical director of the
Harvard-affiliated Sleep HealthCenters.
Go to bed when you are tired,
and allow your body to wake you in the morning
(no alarm clock allowed).
You may find yourself catatonic in the beginning of the recovery cycle: Expect to bank upward of ten hours shut-eye per night. As the days pass, however, the amount of time sleeping will gradually decrease.
For recovery sleep, both the hours slept and the intensity of the sleep are important.
As you erase sleep debt, your body will come to rest at a sleep pattern that is specifically right for you.
A 2003 study in the journal Sleep found that the more tired we get, the less tired we feel.
So earn back that lost sleep—and follow the dictates of your innate sleep needs. You’ll feel better.
“When you put away sleep debt, you become superhuman,” says Stanford’s Dement, talking about the improved mental and physical capabilities that come with being well rested.
Finally, a scientific reason to sleep in on Saturday.