What Is Sleep Debt?

Do you remember the last time you felt fully rested? If you’re like countless sleep deprived individuals, you might not even remember what it feels like to get enough sleep. Each shortchanged night adds to an individual’s accumulating sleep debt. The concept of sleep debt is still being debated by scientific minds. Sleep experts tend to agree that sleep debt is a real phenomenon, even if it isn’t precisely measurable.

Types of Sleep Debt

Researchers have identified two types of sleep debt: The consequences of partial sleep deprivation and the consequences of total sleep deprivation. Total sleep deprivation is defined as staying awake for a minimum of 24 consecutive hours. Partial sleep deprivation involves insufficient sleep over a period of a few days or longer.

Costs of Sleep Debt

Although sleep debt has nothing to do with financial debt, it can still be evaluated in terms of productivity losses. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) states that the accumulated cost of American sleep debt is $66 billion per year. The lack of sleep costs both people and companies money because of the resulting health consequences, as well as the lost productivity in the workplace. Furthermore, the NSF states that the national sleep debt contributes to about 1,500 deaths annually, along with 76,000 injuries and 100,000 traffic accidents.

Ways to Repay the Sleep Debt

People often try to repay their sleep debts by getting extra sleep on the weekends. But this is less than ideal. If Liz is consistently shortchanging her sleep by two hours Monday through Friday, then she’ll owe 10 hours by the weekend. It’s just not realistic for Liz to get an extra 10 hours of sleep in such a short time. Instead, sleep experts recommend making gradual changes that improve sleep hygiene over time, such as avoiding caffeine and sticking to a regular sleep schedule.

Guardvant is on a mission to connect companies with technologically advanced solutions to combat truck driver fatigue. It’s our firm belief that tasks should only be performed when they can be performed safely. Call our office in Tucson, AZ at (520) 299-1911 with any questions you may have.