Here’s something pretty interesting.
If you take a group of people who are normally sound sleepers, give them a test, then keep them awake an additional 4 hours past their bedtime, then compare their abilities at both a mental and physical test the next morning — they do MUCH WORSE. Similar to being intoxicated.
If you keep on keeping these people up past their bedtime every day for several days — about 11 — eventually they start THINKING they are doing better with getting by with less sleep, but actually their mental and physical ability CONTINUES to progressively decline.
You know that feeling that you’re finding out you can survive pretty well on less sleep? It’s not true. What’s happening is you’re just getting used to to the fog of surviving on less. Actually you’ve gone from sleep deprivation into sleep debt — the chronic problem of being way behind on your sleep.
Now, combine that with what happens when you have a child. Did you know — by the time your child is two years old, you will have racked up SIX MONTHS of sleep debt. Six months of sleep you missed.
The same goes for providing pretty much round the clock acute care to a family member for any other situation they have.
No wonder we’re grumpy!
A lack of sleep may be the primary medical issue responsible for so many of our performance issues and general poor health.
What to do? You can’t work off a six month sleep debt by sleeping for six months straight, because if you laze around the house all the time, your metabolic need goes down, causing your hormonal balance to change, causing you to slow down in general.
Much better way to resolve a sleep debt — get 2 extra hours of sleep each day. For example, go to bed an hour earlier, having prepared for the next day such that you can sleep an hour later.
It may take several weeks, but eventually you’ll start feeling more with-it and healthy.