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Are you banking your sleep? Invest wisely.

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

Amid the buzzings of finances, none takes time to listen to the body’s sleep calls. We snooze it. We often bunk that bank. A wise investment in sleep is all we need to reap good health when awake.

Just as you play safe with your finance, so should you with sleep. Yes, banking your sleep. Though the term might create a sense of newness, we have been doing it all along. That short nap we take before gearing up for an all-night race to meet a project deadline or the late evening sleep to pull an all-nighter before the exam is sleep banking. Sleeping a few hours (usually 1–2) before a night of sleep loss is what we call sleep banking.

How does sleep banking help? Let’s say you have a long night drive. Sleeping an hour or two in the evening will lighten the sleepiness of your physical senses and help you to stay awake. It’s similar to how we save up money in our bank account to withdraw it in times of emergency. There’s an optimum amount of sleep required by our body for proper recovery from the physical and emotional exertions of the day. A night’s sleep is inevitable for proper recovery. When our circumstances and situations demand sleep deprivation, sleep banking becomes handy. The time you takeout to sleep during the daytime helps you make up for the sleep deficit at night. And the profit you get is: stay active through the night and find yourself at ease in your bounce back to the recovered state.

Is sleep banking good for health? Just as the investments are subject to market risks, even sleep banking has its own risks. The sleep you bank in during the day, which might be around 2–3 hours shall never make up for the entire night’s sleep. A study conducted at Ohio University showed that the sleep bankers performed better than others on their first sleep loss night, but both the groups were on an equal stand of fatigue when both the groups were asked to work without sleep for the next night too. This reinforces that sleep banking would help you get through a day without sleep but not beyond that. Banking sleep once-in-a-while is good, but it isn’t effective when practiced as a habit. It tends to change the internal clock of the body, which might affect the health- physically and mentally.

Another fact to be noted about sleep banking is that it helps you to be physically active and alert, but the same cannot be expected of your cognitive activities. The 2–3 hours of sleep you bank isn’t sufficient to accommodate the REM sleep duration that you usually have during the natural sleep duration of 7 to 8 hours. The last half of your natural sleep accounts for the majority of your REM sleep, which is responsible for learning, understanding, and processing. REM sleep improves reaction times, aids knowledge retention, and alleviates anxiety and mental disorders. Because it occurs toward the end of your sleep, losing just 25% of total sleep could mean up to a 90% reduction in REM sleep.

So regular sleep banking comes at the cost of your cognitive abilities, affecting your productivity and performance indirectly.

How do I benefit from sleep banking? To reap healthy benefits out of your sleep bank, your regular sleep has to be debt-free. Sleep debt is the difference between the number of sleep hours required by your body and mind and the actual number of hours you slept. If you are in sleep debt, the short naps that you plan before a night-out still try to make up for the debt and you remain in debt again. Sleeping long hours during the weekend does not balance the lost sleep throughout the week.

Long sleep deprivation interferes with your day-to-day life, cranks your day, and messes with your brain. You must manage your sleep activities to avoid over-exploitation and under-investing of your sleep bank. Consistent sleep timings and quality sleep cycles whether it is a normal workday or a holiday, improves your sleep quality, thus improving the quality of recovery to balance all the physical and emotional stress that your body is subjected to. Banking sleep, when you are free of sleep debt can work wonders to your sleep life as well as holistic health.

Just as you are keen on your money investments, be keen on your sleep too!

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