How to recover your lost sleep
You’ve just had another terrible night. You get up out of bed and struggle to make it through the day…
You start thinking about how you’re going to recover those lost hours of sleep.
Does this sound familiar?
If it does, rest assured, you are not alone…
… With everything written about sleep deprivation and the effects of lost sleep on your health, it’s only natural for you to worry.
But there are 3 problems here:
- Sleep Pressure: Focusing on recovering the sleep you missed puts pressure on you to sleep better. Unfortunately, you cannot control when you fall asleep or how long you’ll sleep through the night.
- 1 Hour Out, An Hour In: Sleep recovery doesn’t work this way. Sleeping an extra 3 hours tonight to make up for the 3 hours you lost last night doesn’t mean you’ve recovered your sleep debt.
- Making Your Problem Worse: By modifying your sleep and wake times, you affect your circadian rhythm, which then impacts your entire sleep-wake cycle.
The good news, though, is that you can recover without changing anything.
Not all sleep is equal
You see, not all sleep is equal in the manner in which it is restorative.
A nap, a night of fragmented sleep, and a good night’s sleep are all different. A quality night’s sleep will bring you the recovery you need.
This process occurs best during 2 specific stages of sleep: REM and deep sleep.
And the good news is your brain is extremely adept at giving you more of these sleep stages when you need them.
Contrary to popular belief, your brain doesn’t just go through these stages in equal proportions throughout each cycle of your night. It will provide a larger proportion of REM or deep sleep when needed, compared to nights when you don’t.
How to recover lost sleep
All you need to do is trust your brain to give you the recovery you need.
So, next time you have another one of these terrible nights, do these 3 things:
- Try to have a normal day as you would after a great night of sleep. If you had planned to go out in the evening, go out!
- Only go to bed when you are physically struggling to keep your eyes open.
- In the morning, don’t sleep in or lie in. On the contrary, try to get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off, move your body, go out, and go for a walk to get some sunlight.
This will help improve your sleep the following night.
You’ll see that the more you do this, the better your brain will become at helping you recover. It won’t fix your sleep issue, but it will help on those difficult nights, especially if you’ve had a few in a row.
Your brain can be retrained to sleep healthily.