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Catch up on your sleep, while you still can

By Christie Melhorn, September 6 2017 —

The warmth and late sunsets of summer nights beckon us to stay up later. Sometimes it’s worth losing some sleep to grab drinks with friends, see a live show or to get caught in a YouTube video spiral. However, habitually sacrificing sleep catches up in a nasty way. It makes you grumpy, increases sugar cravings and can even trigger depression, tarnishing your summer experience as a whole. Enjoy what’s left of summer with the following tips on how to pay off sleep debt.

Sleep longer
According to Harvard Health Publications, the average person needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Between multiple jobs, school anxiety and social commitments, it’s easy to compromise that habit during the fall or winter semesters. Sleeping an extra few hours throughout the week can help you recover. If sleeping in isn’t an option, try going to bed earlier in a dark, cool space — I’ve recently overcome my childhood fear of the basement to sleep properly.
Napping can help, but it’s ideal to extend your sleep. According to psychologist Diana Walcutt, sleeping for long periods of time without waking up helps us enter all of the sleep stages that recharge our bodies. We enter the deepest stage after about 90 minutes and need to spend at least five hours in it to be properly rested.

Turn your alarm clock off
Don’t set your alarm if you don’t need to. Harvard Health Publications recommends letting your body wake up naturally to balance out exhaustion. Leaving it off will give your brain and body a break from routine.

Create a pattern
Once you’ve recovered from sleep deprivation, avoid it by sticking to a schedule. With the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night in mind, try going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day. Initially, you may feel more tired, even with more sleep. This adjustment process will take time and might suck but you will feel more refreshed in the long run.

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