If you ride the bus or train for work, you’re not alone in either drifting off occasionally or even counting on the downtime to catch some shut-eye. Sleeping in a crowded, noisy, bumpy environment would seem to go against every usual measure we take in preparation for rest, though. It raises the question, “Is it even worth it?”
The answer is yes. You may have thought no. After all, especially if you’ve been reading other articles the importance of sleep, you know that quality of sleep is as important as quantity. While it can happen, it’s harder to keep from being disturbed on a bus or subway long enough to reach the deeper stages of sleep, when our bodies recover most.
Of course, we still need to get at least 6 hours of sleep on average and ideally 7-9 hours. Here’s where even a little cat nap between stations can be helpful. Our amount of sleep is cumulative, meaning naps count towards our total. When you get 20 minutes on the commuter train, you can make up for time you missed the night before.
The idea of “repaying” the missing time in our sleep schedules is how we get the concept of sleep debt. It may not be ideal, but sleeping on the bus or train is much better than letting your debt build up.
Sleep debt is not reset every 24 or 48 hours. If you aren’t getting 6 hours a night at the least each weeknight, your sleep debt will likely be too large to adequately repay just over the weekend. This means that getting a nap on your commute when you can (obviously, a relaxing, comfortable space would be ideal) is still important.
And don’t think you can blow off sleep with another cup of coffee. You need to manage your schedule to ensure you can maintain a regular amount of quality sleep at night or napping when you need to. Without sleep, we:
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 25% of all Americans (more than 78 million people) don’t get all the sleep they should. Sleep deprivation is a very real problem, so do what you can to make getting enough rest a priority in your life.
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