Sleep debt: are you suffering?

Monday morning, the alarm went off and I hit the snooze button.  Sunday night, I stayed up a little later because I was working on some blog projects and it messed with my routine a bit.  Sunday work, turned into a Monday morning snooze that lasted long enough for me to miss my morning workout.  What’s up with that?

Monday afternoon, I start going through my e-mail and find something interesting about sleep deprivation.  Keep in mind, I didn’t think I was sleep deprived because I go to sleep at old lady time.  I’m usually in bed by 9pm if not earlier because I do rise at 4 am on the daily. But reading this e-mail, I found out more than I bargained for.

Why am I telling you about sleep?  A healthy lifestyle isn’t just about what you eat or being active.  It’s a mindy, body and soul thing.  It’s a lifestyle and your sleep patterns play a big part in your lifestyle.


Let’s take a minute to talk about sleep debt.  If you’re not getting a steady/continuous 7 hours of sleep each night, you’re in a sleep deficit.  The big question always has been can you catch up on sleep.  According to this article, you can catch up on sleep if you are suffering from acute sleep deprivation which is a few nights of restless sleep.  I have a problem with waking up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, some nights it’s worse than others.

But then there’s another side. chronic sleep deprivation.  Chronic sleep deprivation is consistently getting less than 5 hours of sleep for an extended amount of time.  If you are suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, say goodbye to catching up on the zzz’s because it’s not going to happen.

The more sleep you lose in your cycle, the harder it is for you to get it back.  Isn’t that sad? Sleep is such a beautiful thing and we’re just wasting it away. I also read something about your sleep time being linked to your body fat.

What the researchers found:

  • Getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep and more than 8.5 hours of sleep was linked to higher body fat
  • High quality sleep was associated with lower body fat while poor sleep correlated with higher body fat
  • Waking and going to sleep at the same time every day (particularly a consistent wake time) was most strongly linked with lower body fat

I really don’t start to notice how tired I am until about 14 days.  I go through these periods when I’m just wiped out and I start to notice it around that 13-14 day mark.  I’m always trying to figure out what the problem is, but I never look at my sleep pattern.  It’s always something else, but this is the root of the problem.

Remember when I told you I was struggling with my runs a few weeks back, I think that problem was caused by not getting enough quality sleep under my belt.  All roads lead back to lack of sleep and being busy.

Catching your zzz

Here are some ways I try to make my sleep experience optimal:

1. I don’t watch television in my bedroom.  The only time that TV comes on is when I’m sick and I’m forced to stay in the room.  Otherwise, the TV stays off.  I flirted with watching TV to help me fall asleep but I found it just kept me up longer.  It’s just a constant stream of keeping my mind going.

2. No electronics before bed, except for my Kindle. Messing around on the social medias or watching Netflix is just another way to stimulate my mind and bed time is the time to wind down.  I’m constantly in motion so it takes a while for my mind and body to wind down so leaving these devices behind is what is best. I do like to read before bed, but I have to be careful about this too because if I’m too into the book…I won’t sleep.  Sometimes, I just write.

3. Not late night exercising.  Right now I’m struggling because our running group meets at 7pm to run.  With my sleep schedule that just doesn’t work for me.  The few times I have run that late, I’m energized and fully awake which really makes it hard for me to calm down and get ready for bed.  Evening exercise classes are a no go for me.  It’s best for me to just skip the workout and start fresh in the morning, otherwise I’m going to be up all night.

The same thing stands with caffeine.  I just don’t do it after 3pm.

Those are just a few things I do to help me get better sleep at night.  Now I’m really focused on getting those 7 hours of sleep because when I do, I feel better.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night? Do you have any tips for getting better sleep at night?