Is It Possible to Catch Up on Lost Sleep?

The general rule of thumb is that adults need eight hours of sleep each night. Some people need a little more and others need a little less. Unfortunately, most Americans get less than seven hours of sleep each night, which means that most people are chronically sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of health problems and workplace accidents, which is particularly problematic for workers who operate heavy machinery or vehicles.

The Debate on Sleep Debt

Every time you sleep less than you need to, you add to your sleep debt. For example, if you normally need eight hours each night for proper mental and physical functioning, and you only sleep for six hours, you add two hours to your total sleep debt. Experts are divided regarding the question of whether it’s possible to catch up on lost sleep. The pessimism largely stems from the fact that it’s very difficult to repay a sleep debt that has been building up for months or years. However, research does seem to indicate that a person who is dedicated to repaying sleep debt can indeed get caught up. It’ll just take a long-term commitment.

The Approach to Catching Up on Lost Sleep

To reach optimum mental and physical functioning, it may take a few months of consistently “reprogramming” one’s sleep patterns. You will need to get into the habit of going to bed as soon as you feel tired enough to sleep. Allow yourself to awaken naturally, without an alarm clock. It’s normal to sleep 10 hours per night or longer while going through this reprogramming period. As you repay your sleep debt, you will gradually and progressively need less sleep to feel well-rested. Your body’s circadian rhythm will naturally establish a sleeping pattern that’s appropriate for your needs.

Guardvant is an industry leader in fatigue risk management technology to reduce the risk of workplace accidents. With OpGuard, operators are continuously monitored for fatigue events and other unsafe behaviors while operating vehicles. Call our headquarters in Tucson at (520) 299-1911.