At some time or another, you’ll probably miss a night’s sleep, whether you’re caring for a sick child or facing rigid deadlines at work.
Although it would be nice to sleep in the next day, sometimes you have to keep on going.
“For there is nothing quite so terror-inducing as the loss of sleep. It creates phantoms and doubts, causes one to questions one’s own abilities and judgment, and, over time, dismantles, from within, the body.” ― Charlie Huston
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to function better after a hard night.
Steps to Take Before You Miss a Night’s Sleep
1. Store up sleep in Advance. Many studies confirm that you can bank some sleep. Those who got extra slumber in the weeks before being deprived of sleep performed better and recovered faster. Experiment until you find the right formula for you.
2. Arrange for alternative transportation. Driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as operating a vehicle when you’re intoxicated. Ask a friend for a ride to the office or plan to call a cab.
3. Rearrange your Workload. Research also shows that sleep deprivation affects some abilities more than others. You’re better off scheduling creative work and public speaking engagements for another time.
Things to Do After You Miss a Night’s Sleep
4. Nap a little. Naturally, sleep is the best antidote for sleep deprivation. Napping for 5 to 20 minutes will help restore your energy. Even just shutting your eyes briefly can help.
5. Go easy on the caffeine. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee or its equivalent and drink it early in the day. Otherwise, it could backfire and keep you up the next night.
6. Stay hydrated. Dehydration causes fatigue. Drink plenty of water and snack on vegetables and fruit. Avoid alcoholic beverages.
7. Engage in exercise. Physical activity is one of the healthiest and most effective ways to revive your energy levels quickly. Go for a brisk walk or do a few sets of leg lifts.
8. Strike up a conversation. Chatting with people around you can also perk you up temporarily. Attentive listening will help to focus your mind even if you’re too sleepy to contribute anything profound.
9. Turn up the lights. Our brains naturally wake up when exposed to light. Early morning sunlight is especially powerful so spend a little time outdoors. Later, you can sit near a bright lamp. Consider buying a Seasonal Affective Disorder therapy light. They emit bright, wide spectrum light which mimicks natural sunlight. For example, the Lightphoria 10,000 LUX Energy Light Lamp, which many people report helps them feel more energetic during short daylight winter days, is recommended by experts.
10. Alternate between tasks. Switching back and forth between monotonous tasks makes it easier to stay awake. Try doing your housework and reading your emails in brief intervals.
11. Adjust the thermostat. Comfort levels vary from one individual to the next but 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal room temperature for most people. If it’s too hot or too cold, you body responds by getting sleepy.
12. Take deep breaths. You’ll soon feel more animated if you deliver more oxygen to your brain Take full breaths from your abdomen rather than from your chest.
13. Avoid getting sick. Your immune system needs adequate sleep to stay strong. If your defenses are down temporarily, be more diligent about protective measures like frequent hand washing.
14. Monitor your moods. You may be more prone to irritability when you’re struggling to stay awake. Buy yourself flowers or listen to soothing music. Put off difficult conversations until you’re back in shape.
15. Give yourself time to recover. Sleep is vital for healing and regenerating your body and mind. Most people need more than one night to recover from interrupted sleep. Get back on schedule as quickly as possible and realize that it may take a week or more to feel fully restored.
Protect your mental and physical health by making a commitment to getting the sleep you need.
“The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.” ― Leonard Cohen
By staying well rested most of the time, you’ll be better prepared to recover from the occasional sleepless night and still manage your daily activities.
To be more specific, the National Sleep Foundation, along with a multi-disciplinary expert panel, recently issued its new recommendations for appropriate sleep durations.
A summary of the new recommendations includes:
• Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day
• Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours
• Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours
• Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours
• School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours
• Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours
• Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
• Adults (26-64): Sleep range: 7-9 hours
• Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours
The NSF gathered experts on sleep, anatomy and physiology, as well as pediatrics, neurology, gerontology and gynecology to reach a consensus from the broadest range of scientific disciplines.
For More Information:
J. Catesby Ware, PhD et al.
National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary.
Sleep Health, March 2015 Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 40–43 DOI: 10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010
Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder
Norman E. Rosenthal MD
The Guilford Press; Fourth Edition (September 4, 2012)
Say Good Night to Insomnia: The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed At Harvard Medical School
Gregg D. Jacobs
Holt Paperbacks; Revised edition (September 15, 2009)
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