Although you may feel more refreshed after indulging in a long night of sleep after a week of early mornings, recovering from your sleep debt — the difference between the hours of sleep your body requires and the number of you're actually getting — takes time, and definitely more than just one night of good sleep. If, for instance, your sleep patterns are similar to the average American adult, you're sleeping 6.8 hours on weekdays and a little more, 7.4 hours, on weekend nights. If your sleep goal is 8 hours a night, your sleep debt ends up totaling more than two weeks every year [source: Webster].
Eventually, you may settle that debt if it's a short-term deficit (one all-nighter, for example). But in the case of long-term sleep debt, you might not be able to. Even if you do repay a short-term loss of sleep, you're still at an increased risk of developing the health problems associated with sleep deprivation [source: Cohen, et a].