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What Is Sleep Debt?



A woman sits asleep in her chair with her head on her desk, surrounded by books.



You may have heard in the news that Americans suffer from “sleep debt.” We are always so busy. Whether this is because of work, or family, or spending time on our phones or in front of the TV, the struggle is real: Most of us are not getting enough sleep.


But what is sleep debt, exactly? Is sleep debt real? If it is real, what can we do about it? Today in the Royal Egyptian Bedding Blog, we are looking at sleep debt.



What Is Sleep Debt?


Sleep debt is the difference, measured in time (usually hours), between the amount of sleep that our bodies need and the amount of sleep that we actually get.


  • For example, if you need seven hours of sleep a night, and you only get six hours, that’s a sleep debt of one hour.


Sleep debt is often thought of in cumulative terms, where a person misses out on needed sleep over multiple days, or even a period of weeks or months. When this happens, fatigue can become chronic, as even a good night’s sleep won’t be enough for that person to feel truly rested.


This is important because what is sleep debt if not the inability to feel rested and fully alert even after a full night’s sleep? The value of understanding sleep debt is not to measure lost sleep, but to understand its impact on our bodies.



Is Sleep Debt Real?


In a word, yes: Sleep debt is real. The effects of lost sleep have been scientifically documented and can include:


  • Fatigue, sometimes intense

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Memory lapses

  • Irritability and anxiety

  • Depression

  • Hallucinations

  • Suppressed immune function

  • Cardiovascular strain


What is sleep debt if not thoroughly unpleasant? The cumulative effects of sleep debt come into play in the form of reduced resiliency: Even when you do get a good night’s sleep, if you have any sleep debt, your energy will fade out sooner, and those unpleasant symptoms will creep in.



How to Pay Off Your Sleep Debt


Is sleep debt real? Yes, but so is the solution. If you are struggling with a sleep debt of your own, there is only one good way you can pay it off: You have to get the proper amount of sleep. The best way to do this is not to “catch up” on lost sleep by trying to sleep longer than you need, but instead to get the appropriate amount of sleep each night. If you have been short on sleep, an extra half-hour here and there will help, but much more than that is not only unhelpful it can be impractical.


There are many things you can do to change your lifestyle so that you get to bed early enough to get the sleep you need. However, once you are in bed, there is one more thing you can do: You can sleep on good bedding. It is hard to underestimate the importance of clean, comfortable bedding.



Explore Our Premium Bedding


What is sleep debt? It is something that we at REB can help you with. Our luxury bedding is exactly what you would find in a 5-star hotel. Whether you are interested in our famous Egyptian cotton bed sheets, our breathable bamboo cotton, or our airy microfiber sheets, we have something for every home environment and all seasons of the year. Explore now:



Sleep debt is an opportunity to treat yourself to some of the world’s finest fabrics, and sleep well.