Sleep debt: tips for getting back on track

sleep debt

We all love sleep. Don’t we? Oh my goodness, yes.

But being a working mum we often think we can do without a lot of it. There aren’t enough hours in the day, so what do we do? We eat into the night. This causes sleep debt, which is kind of like being overdrawn at the bank; eventually your body will demand you pay up.

Fact is, it’s actually really counter-productive and we need to pay better attention this crucially important part of our day.

The amount of sleep each person needs depends on many factors, including age. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep. The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep in previous days. Getting too little sleep creates a “sleep debt”.

According to the American Sleep Association we don’t seem to adapt to getting less sleep than we need; while we may get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired.

Many studies show that sleep deprivation is dangerous. Sleep appears necessary for our nervous systems to work properly. Too little sleep leaves us unable to concentrate the next day. It also leads to impaired memory, physical performance and reduced ability to carry out simple tasks. If sleep deprivation continues, hallucinations and mood swings may develop. Sound familiar?

So, with a busy over-stimulated brain that is constantly flitting between children and work issues, how can we help ourselves switch off and get a good night’s rest? Here are 5 top tips from the Sleep Foundation:

  • Bedtime rituals: Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. Using an electronic device can make it hard to fall asleep. So don’t read this article before bed!
  • Write a list: If tomorrow’s to-dos race around your brain as you try to drift off, get them out of your head by writing them down.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep: All can disrupt a good night’s rest, so try to avoid for around 3 hours prior.
  • Tune in to your senses: Doing so keeps you in the present moment, which prevents you from focusing on sleep-inhibiting stressful thoughts. Think about how the sheets feel against your skin, what sounds you hear out your window, and how the air smells.

Sweet dreams


Cat Jones

Cat is a Barrister and mother of two beautiful kids. She lives in the fast-paced city of London where she juggles corporate life and mum life on a daily basis. She is passionate about fitness and friends and finding ways to incorporate the two. She's a true perfectionist and knows all too well how challenging it is to live up to the expectations we put on ourselves.

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