Reverse your sleep debt

Dr Suzanne Pearson
July 21, 2016

Hours C-shaping at your desk, kids you kiss goodnight but see five more times before morning, snoring bed partners and a hectic social calendar. Sounds familiar? Who’s got time to sleep?

Unfortunately, those late nights (even the guilty pleasures like binge-watching Game of Thrones or Facebooking) may be impacting your health.


A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescence of Scottish teenagers found that those who used more social media - both overall and at night - experienced poorer sleep quality. Hello blue light effect.

What’s more, studies suggest that people who don't get enough sleep are at higher risk for lifestyle diseases, like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. In other words, a lack of sleep could be making you sick. Pass thanks.

While it’s not exactly clear how lack of sleep is detrimental to health, researchers believe accruing a sleep debt can disrupt underlying health conditions and biological processes like blood pressure and inflammation. Time to reinvest.

You may fall in the more or less camp, but as a general rule most adults need about eight hours a night.

Did you know? If you live to 80, you would have spent close to one third of your life asleep. So much for sleeping when you’re dead.

Source: Medical Journal of Australia 2013


Other than counting Dolly and friends, how can you lull yourself to dreamland?

Try these 5 expert tips from the Sleep Health Foundation to set yourself up for the rest you’ve been dreaming of:

1. Skip your 3pm flat white

  • Caffeine is a stimulant that prevents you sleeping well, especially in extra sensitive types

2. Avoid late night eating and drinking

  • Eating too close to bedtime can cause heartburn, and fluids before bed can keep you up with regular trips to the loo
  • While alcohol may make you drowsy, it can promote restless sleep

3. Put down the phone and turn off the TV

  • Snapchatting, playing computer games or watching TV stimulates your brain, and bright screen lights can throw off your body clock at a time when you are meant to be winding down

4. Make peace with your bed

  • Use your bed for sleeping (and fun times) only. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed, do something relaxing and return to bed when you’re ready to pillow drool

5. Set regular sleep times

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day


By Dr Suzanne Pearson, PhD, MNutrDiet, APD, BSc (Hons)