Humans have a terrible time getting the correct amount of sleep. If you sleep too little, you are probably shaving years off your life. If you sleep too much, you are probably shaving years off your life. That sweet spot exists somewhere between 7-9 hours, so we are told, but even those figures are highly subjective.
Sleep remains one of life’s great mysteries. But if there is one thing that you can take solace in when it comes to sleep, it’s that everyone is more or less in the same boat; i.e., we’re all tired as hell. At least that’s what a new survey suggests, which says that people are missing out on upwards of 32 hours of sleep a month.
The Sleep Debt
The new survey comes the way of Bedstar, which conducted their survey with 2,500 adults in the U.K. to see how much sleep they were missing out on.
The survey was based on an 8-hour sleeping schedule and also found that hours of missed sleep varied on location. Bedstar discovered that adults in North Ireland only lost around 27 hours of sleep. On the other hand, adults in the West Midlands lost 32 hours of sleep a month on average.
The results also differed across industries. Healthcare employees lost up to 42 hours of sleep while public services had the least at 21 hours.
What’s more, the survey revealed that many attempt to pay back the “sleep debt” by binge sleeping on the weekend. If you’re not familiar, sleep debt is the “cumulative effect of a person not having sufficient sleep.” As you fall under that 8-hour threshold night after night, your sleep debt accumulates.
According to the survey, many adults believe that they can just repay their longterm sleep debt back by oversleeping on the weekend. It sounds like a sound idea, but not so fast. Sleep debt is typically only offset by getting the correct amount of sleep consecutive nights and then maintaining that cycle.
Repaying the Debt
The good news is that if you have a steep sleep debt to pay back to the sleep bookies (diabetes and high blood pressure), you can pay it back without mainlining Red Bull and coffee in the office.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute outlines several strategies that are no-brainers at this point in human civilization. Among the most simple include heading to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time. Additionally, put tablets and phones away at least an hour before you hit the pillow. It also goes without saying to avoid caffeine and nicotine before bedtime.
If all else fails, revert to your infant days and get a bed that physically rocks you to sleep. It’s worth a shot.