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Brandon Peters, M.D.

Paying Off Your Sleep Debt

By September 9, 2009

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We are a world riddled with debts, but not all of these are financial. In fact, you may owe yourself a nap.

Sleep debt is the accumulated amount of sleep loss from insufficient sleep, regardless of cause. There are many causes of sleep disorders that may contribute to sleep loss. The most common by far is sleep restriction, or simply not getting enough sleep to meet your individual sleep needs.

This sleep debt may accumulate gradually, minutes a night, or suddenly, if you only get half the sleep you need one night. It can be paid back similarly, through extended rest or with naps. As you might expect, this is only effective over the short-term: it seems impossible to make up for lost sleep that is too far in the past.

How our body responds to sleep debt is just starting to be understood, but sleep deprivation can have serious health consequences. So as we collectively put our financial house in order, don't forget to pay off your sleep debt while you are at it.

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