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Sleep science

What is sleep drive and why is it so important?

Homeostatic sleep drive

One of the biggest systems we have to help us sleep is our homeostatic sleep drive. 

When you spend more time awake, you build up a sleepiness which makes you want to sleep. 

The more time you spend sleeping, the more you build up a wakefulness. This makes you want to be awake so it’s a drive state like hunger is a drive state. The less you eat the more you get hungry, the more you need to eat. It’s exactly the same with sleep.

Circadian rhythm

There are variables that affect our homeostatic sleep drive and our circadian rhythm. 

Circadian rhythm is where we have timings in the day and the night where we’re more likely to do certain things. Sometimes we get a little dip during the day where we feel a bit sleepy. That doesn’t always mean that we need to go to sleep, it means you’re more likely to sleep than at other times. 

We know that there are certain times during the day where you’re more likely to need to sleep and more likely to need to be awake. 

The homeostatic sleep drive is the way that your sleep works so the longer you are awake the more likely you are to be needing to sleep.