Doctor's Tips on How to Pay Off Sleep Debt



Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Having a huge load of work, stress, or facing relationship problems may disrupt the sleep schedule for even some nights. Sleep deprivation links to many health and mental issues. So how to catch up on your sleepless nights?

    “If you have accumulated sleep debt, you need to pay off the short-term debt first,” said a general practitioner from Jakarta Pondok Indah Hospital, I Made Tirta Saputrah.

    According to Made, when one skips 10 hours of sleep during the week, he or she can add 3 to 4 hours of sleeping on weekends and 1-2 extra hours per night the following week until the sleep debt is paid off. 

    Long-term sleep debt, meanwhile, may require several weeks to make it up, Made added.

    He referred to the statement made by the Medical Director of the Harvard University-affiliated Sleep Health Center, Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein, who suggests people with sleep debt to go on vacation and turn off their alarms.

    “Let the body wake up naturally in the morning. At first, you may sleep for 12 hours or more until your body finally adapts again to wake up normally,” he added.

    Epstein remarked that adequate sleep is as vital as other healthy lifestyles. It helps maintain and increase the immunity against diseases, including COVID-19.

    In general, adults are recommended to have a minimum of 6 to 7 hours of night sleep. To maintain the immune system, it is also advised to avoid or manage stress properly and eat healthy foods, particularly vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin B, vitamin C, zinc, and Vitamin D.

    Practicing regular exercise such as brisk walking for 30 minutes, avoiding smoking and alcoholic drinks, as well as fulfilling water intake also help to boost the immune system.

    “According to the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board, women are suggested to drink 2.7 liters of water per day, while men need 3.7 liters of water daily,” Made said.

    Read: Tips to Sleep Better at Night