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How Do You Catch Up On Lost Sleep/Sleep Debt

by Anthony
(Sydney, NSW, Australia)

Hi, I would like to understand how we can catch up on sleep/sleep debt in situations where we have had poor sleep for several nights.

For example, the last 4 nights I have only had 3-4 hours of sleep. As a result I feel heavily fatigued and also got sick somehow, just a general cold which probably came from someone else.

Any advice would be great! I found a link to your page which explains sleep debt but nothing was there to explain how to fix it.

Kevin: Hey Anthony, thanks for your question. Paying back your sleep debt is incredibly simple--you just sleep more. For example, if you have a sleep need of around 8 hours per night, sleeping 4 hours for 4 nights will give you a sleep debt of around 16 hours. To lower this sleep debt, sleep more than 8 hours in a day. For instance, sleeping 10 hours one night will lower your sleep debt around 2 hours.

Presenting the numbers like this is a bit of a simplification, but the mental model it provides is very useful for achieving the amount of sleep on a consistent basis that will keep you feeling healthy and alert.


(Please keep in mind that I am a student of sleep science and not a medical doctor. Please take any thoughts I give with my background in mind.)

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