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Sleep Debt

How to Recover from Missing a Night of Sleep


If you missed a night of sleep, you may be suffering defects of what is known as sleep debt. In other words, you are not giving your body the sleep it needs, and there are symptoms you’ll have to deal with until you make up that sleep.

Now the amount of sleep that you have to make up isn’t the same as how much you missed, usually. When people stay up late to work or study and miss a night of sleep in order to save themselves some time, they can actually save time. They end up sleeping less overall, but they will feel the effects the next day.

Missing a night of sleep means you will be feeling tired, lacking energy, and perhaps poorly motivated. You may have a headache, blurred vision, and trouble moving. You may feel sluggish and weak. You might also suffer from a grouchy attitude, and your temperament may go up and down throughout the day.

You may have trouble controlling your emotions and may even feel depressed for no reason.

How to recover from missing a night of sleep? Before we share with you some ways you can recover from lost sleep, we do want to mention that it can be dangerous to have an inconsistent sleep schedule.

If you frequently miss nights of sleep and then try to make it up, that can be very unhealthy. You can suffer from depression, chronic low energy, malnutrition, and weak immunity, among other problems.

Missing a night of sleep every once in a while will likely have no long term side effects, but doing it often can have serious repercussions.

Tips on How to Get a Good Nights Sleep

Go to Bed Earlier

If you missed a night of sleep, you’re going to need to make that up to some degree. You may not need to make up a full 6 or 8 hours of sleep, but you definitely need to sleep longer the next night. It’s probably not very easy to sleep in late, if you work a job. What may be easier for you is to go to bed earlier.

Plan ahead so that you can clear your schedule for an early night. That may mean putting the kids to bed earlier, buying prepared food so you don’t have to make a meal, canceling a get-together with a friend, and putting off those TV shows you want to watch until another night.

Take a Nap

Another great way to recover from a missing night of sleep is to take a little nap during the day. You may be able to do this on a lunch break, if you’re working. You know your schedule better than anyone, and you’ll have to fit the nap in somehow to help recover from the missing night of sleep.

You do have to be careful about you napping as a recovery from missing a night of sleep. If you nap for too long or nap at the wrong time, it can throw off your bedtime rhythm. You may actually have trouble falling asleep and could end up with a larger sleep debt than before. You may also have trouble getting up in the morning if you take too long of a nap or take a nap too late in the day.

It’s best to try to take your nap before 3:00 PM, and you should keep your nap to 30 minutes or less. You can set an alarm to ensure that you get up at the right time and don’t over-nap.

Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep

If you’re trying to make up for lost sleep time, you want to make sure that the sleep you get is quality rest. Make sure you’re not disturbed during the night and cut out distractions like lights and sounds as much as possible. Some people will use white noise to help them fall asleep faster or wear ear plugs as they sleep. You can use blackout curtains to keep out light from outside your home, and you can wear an eye mask to shut out light sources in the room.

It’s a good idea to unplug or turn off anything in the room that makes noise or produces light. It could be something as simple as your Internet router that is disturbing your sleep. The light it emits can keep you awake during the night, and as you recover from missing a night of sleep, you want the most restful sleep possible.

You should also try to ease into your bedtime, turning off electronics an hour before you go to bed. Try to do a soothing and relaxing activity, like take a warm bath, before you go to bed. You may want to try listening to relaxing music, using scented candles to make your room smell pleasant and ease stress, or you may want to drink a hot beverage like tea before you sleep.

All of these things can help prepare your body for sleep, slow your heart rate, and help you to feel more comfortable and less stressed.

Remember that one of the symptoms of a lack of sleep is out of control emotions. This can mean that you’re easily stressed, angered, or upset. You may need to take action to decrease your heart rate and your blood pressure and to alleviate stress before you go to sleep. You may need some help regulating your emotions so that you can sleep soundly and fall asleep faster. Using one of the relaxation methods we listed above may be able to help you do that.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Missing One Night of Sleep

So, you’ve missed a night of sleep and you want to know how long it’s going to take to make up for that. Most people will recover by the next day. They simply take extra time to sleep or take a nap, and that can be enough to help them fully recover.

How long it takes you to recover will depend on how busy you are, how much sleep you’re able to get the next night, and how restful your sleep is. If you don’t have much time to slow down and recuperate, it’s going to take you longer. It may take you several days to recover from missing night sleep if you have a hectic schedule and you’re not able to get extra sleep the following night.

How much extra sleep will you need? For most people, an additional two hours can be enough to recover from a missing night’s sleep. If all you did was take a nap to try to get back on track, that may not be enough. The nap can help, but like we advised, naps should be kept to under 30 minutes so that you don’t mess up your sleep schedule.

If you manage to get in a nap, you may still need extra sleep in the night to make up for that missing night of sleep. You may want to figure in an additional one hour of sleep.

It is important that you take the time to recover from your lack of sleep. You want to get over the side effects of drowsiness, lethargy, and general feelings of unwellness that come with missing a night of sleep, and you should do that as soon as possible.

Make time to rest and recover so that you can get back on track quickly and so you can feel your best.

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