How to catch up on lost sleep

Insufficient and poor-quality sleep can have wide-ranging negative impacts on everything from health to productivity. Sleep coach Cheryl Fingleson shares some simple tips to get a better night’s sleep.

The health costs that arise from sleep deprivation include over $1 billion spent treating conditions associated with sleep deprivation. Accidents result in the loss of a further $2.48 billion, and economic inefficiency costs $1.56 billion. A study by Australian researchers estimated that decreased productivity due to sleep deprivation resulted in the economy taking a hit of more than AU $12 billion annually.

It is vital that we learn to manage our sleep debt. The following practices can help you consistently achieve a better night’s sleep – and a better day’s performance.

5 steps to catch up on sleep

  1. Go to bed when you are tired
    It may sound obvious, but so many people don’t do it. Start your bedtime routine earlier than usual and as soon as you feel tired, go to bed.

  2. Establish a routine and environment that promote sleep
    Don’t wait until your eyes are sliding shut on the couch! Set a firm bed time, and stick to it. Disconnect all screens and devices, sleep in a dark, well-ventilated room and use natural linens. Drink a glass of water before bed and another when you wake up.

  3. Be patient
    Don’t expect to get ten hours sleep on the first night, or to make up for a huge sleep debt in one lazy weekend. Be patient. It may take your body two weeks to make up for one week of late nights.

  4. Bank it up
    Sleep as much as you can, even after you’ve recovered your sleep debt. Those increments of sleep will continue to benefit you as you pursue your wellness goals. Over time, you will find it easier to cope with future sleep debts when they occur if you have a decent bank of sleep to draw from.

  5. Treat sleep like a doctor
    Sleep has at least as much benefit as diet and exercise. Respect it and treat it as an important part of your health regimen. Protect your bedtimes and sleep routines like you would any doctors’ appointment.

Cheryl Fingleson
‘Cheryl the Sleep Coach’ works with families across a range of areas, including settling and sleep techniques, establishing a good routine, discipline in the home, transition from cot to bed, potty training, safe co-sleeping, and identifying signs of postpartum depression.