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Sleep debt

sleep debt, sleep debt symptoms
Sleep debt or sleep deficit is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep A large sleep debt may lead to mental or physical fatigue

There are two kinds of sleep debt, the results of partial sleep deprivation and total sleep deprivationcitation needed Partial sleep deprivation occurs when a person or a lab animal sleeps too little for several days or weeks Total sleep deprivation means being kept awake for at least 24 hours There is debate in the scientific community over the specifics of sleep debt, and it is not considered to be a disorder


  • 1 Scientific debate
  • 2 Evaluation
  • 3 Across society
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links
  • 7 Further reading

Scientific debateedit

There is debate among researchers as to whether the concept of sleep debt describes a measurable phenomenon The September 2004 issue of the journal Sleep contains dueling editorials from two leading sleep researchers, David F Dinges2 and Jim Horne3 A 1997 experiment conducted by psychiatrists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine suggested that cumulative nocturnal sleep debt affects daytime sleepiness, particularly on the first, second, sixth, and seventh days of sleep restriction4

In one study, subjects were tested using the psychomotor vigilance task PVT Different groups of people were tested with different sleep times for two weeks: 8 hours, 6 hours, 4 hours, and total sleep deprivation Each day they were tested for the number of lapses on the PVT The results showed that as time went by, each group's performance worsened, with no sign of any stopping point Moderate sleep deprivation was found to be detrimental; people who slept 6 hours a night for 10 days had similar results to those who were completely sleep deprived for 1 day56


Sleep debt has been tested in a number of studies through the use of a sleep onset latency test7 This test attempts to measure how easily a person can fall asleep When this test is done several times during a day, it is called a multiple sleep latency test MSLT The subject is told to go to sleep and is awakened after determining the amount of time it took to fall asleep The Epworth Sleepiness Scale ESS, an eight item questionnaire with scores ranging from 0 to 24, is another tool used to screen for potential sleep debt

A January 2007 study from Washington University in St Louis suggests that saliva tests of the enzyme amylase could be used to indicate sleep debt, as the enzyme increases its activity in correlation with the length of time a subject has been deprived of sleep89

The control of wakefulness has recently been found to be strongly influenced by the recently discovered protein orexin A 2009 study from Washington University in St Louis has illuminated important connections between sleep debt, orexin, and amyloid beta, with the suggestion that the development of Alzheimer's disease could hypothetically be a result of chronic sleep debt or excessive periods of wakefulness10

Across societyedit

National Geographic Magazine has reported that the demands of work, social activities, and the availability of 24-hour home entertainment and Internet access have caused people to sleep less now than in premodern times11 USA Today reported in 2007 that most adults in the USA get about an hour less than the average sleep time 40 years ago12

Other researchers have questioned these claims A 2004 editorial in the journal Sleep stated that according to the available data, the average number of hours of sleep in a 24-hour period has not changed significantly in recent decades among adults Furthermore, the editorial suggests that there is a range of normal sleep time required by healthy adults, and many indicators used to suggest chronic sleepiness among the population as a whole do not stand up to scientific scrutiny13

A comparison of data collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey from 1965–1985 and 1998–2001 has been used to show that the median amount of sleep, napping, and resting done by the average adult American has changed by less than 07%, from a median of 482 minutes per day from 1965 through 1985, to 479 minutes per day from 1998 through 20011415

See alsoedit

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness


  1. ^ Reference list is found on image page in Commons: Commons:File:Effects of sleep deprivationsvg#References
  2. ^ Dinges, DF September 2004 "Sleep debt and scientific evidence" Sleep 27 6: 1050–2 PMID 15532196 
  3. ^ Horne, Jim September 2004 "Is there a sleep debt" Sleep 27 6: 1047–9 PMID 15532195 
  4. ^ Dinges DF, Pack F, Williams K, et al April 1997 "Cumulative sleepiness, mood disturbance, and psychomotor vigilance performance decrements during a week of sleep restricted to 4–5 hours per night" Sleep 20 4: 267–77 PMID 9231952 
  5. ^ Walker, MP 2009, October 21 Sleep Deprivation III: Brain consequences – Attention, concentration and real life Lecture given in Psychology 133 at the University of California, Berkeley, CA
  6. ^ Knutson, Kristen L; Spiegel, Karine; Penev, Plamen; Van Cauter, Eve June 2007 "The metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation" Sleep Medicine Reviews 11 3: 163–178 doi:101016/jsmrv200701002 PMC 1991337 PMID 17442599  |access-date= requires |url= help
  7. ^ Klerman EB, Dijk DJ October 2005 "Interindividual variation in sleep duration and its association with sleep debt in young adults" Sleep 28 10: 1253–9 PMC 1351048 PMID 16295210 
  8. ^ Fisher, Mark "Sleeping well isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be hard either" supplementyoursleepcom Retrieved 19 October 2015 
  9. ^ "First Biomarker for Human Sleepiness Identified", Record of Washington University in St Louis, January 25, 2007
  10. ^ JE Kang, MM Lim, RJ Bateman, JJ Lee, LP Smyth, JR Cirrito, N Fujiki, S Nishino and DM Holtzman 2009 "Amyloid- Dynamics Are Regulated by Orexin and the Sleep-Wake Cycle" Science 326 5955: 1005–7 doi:101126/science1180962 PMC 2789838 PMID 19779148  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  11. ^ "US Racking Up Huge "Sleep Debt"", National Geographic Magazine, February 24, 2005
  12. ^ Fackelmann, Kathleen November 25, 2007 "Study: Sleep deficit may be impossible to make up" USA Today 
  13. ^ Horne, Jim September 2004 "Is there a sleep debt" Sleep 27 6: 1047–9 PMID 15532195 
  14. ^ "National Time Use Studies 1965–1985" umdedu 
  15. ^ "National Time Use Studies 1998 - 2001" umdedu 

External linksedit

  • Harvard Magazine article, "Deep into Sleep"
  • Lost Sleep Can't Be Made Up, Study Suggests – LiveScience

Further readingedit

  • Dement, William C, MD, PhD "The Promise of Sleep", Delacorte Press, Random House Inc, New York, 1999

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