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6 Tips to Combat the Effects of Sleep Deprivation

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HOW DID YOU SLEEP last night? Most adults need eight hours of sleep per night, but we don’t always get that. Your lack of sleep may be due to your children keeping you awake, your partner snoring, or your inability to stop thinking about a big project at work. Whatever the reason, if you’re not getting enough Zzzs, you can experience sleep debt and its negative effects.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

It’s a big deal when you can’t sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause:

    • Poor concentration
    • Foggy brain
    • Forgetfulness
    • Moodiness
    • Obesity
    • Heart disease

Your sleep debt can be short-term, like when you stay up late a few nights to finish a big work project, or it can be long-term, such as when you habitually don’t get enough sleep. It can occur once in a while or be a chronic challenge. Either way, it’s a problem.

But before you lose sleep over it, know there are things you can do to make it through those days when you’re suffering from sleep deprivation.

How to Recover From a Poor Night of Sleep

Following these tips can help you to to feel better until you can repay your sleep debt. (By the way, they’re also great for combating jet lag!)

1. Stay hydrated and eat well.
When you are suffering from sleep deprivation, your body attempts to conserve energy, which means it won’t prompt you to eat and drink normally. Fill your plate with fruits, veggies and protein, avoid high-fat foods that make you feel lethargic and drink plenty of water as you re-energize.

2. Exercise. 
Light to moderate aerobic exercise boosts your energy and mood. So take a walk, play some basketball or chase your toddlers around the house as you recover from poor sleep.

3. Go outside.
Sunshine boosts your body’s vitamin D level and decreases melatonin production. That means you’ll feel more energetic and less sleepy as you sit, play or relax in the sunshine.

4. Take care of yourself.
Even though you’re sleepy, take a shower, comb your hair and wear your favorite shirt. Good hygiene and nice clothes will put some pep in your step even though you’re tired.

5. Take a quick nap.
A short 15 to 20 minutes nap can boost your energy and alertness. It helps if you haven’t slept well the night before or if you anticipate going to bed late that night.

6. Drink coffee.
A cup or two of your favorite java might give you the energy boost you need to make it through the day. Stay away from energy drinks, though, since they cause you to crash when their effects wear off.

How to Avoid Sleep Deprivation

Because lack of sleep is unhealthy and hinders your ability to function properly, whenever possible, it’s best to prevent sleep debt by practicing good sleep hygiene:

    • Set consistent bed times and wake up times, and follow them even on weekends.
    • Avoid caffeine after 3 p.m., and don’t eat heavy or fatty evening meals.
    • Turn off electronic devices at least two hours before bed because the light stimulates your brain to stay awake.
    • Enjoy peaceful activities before bed, such as reading, meditating or listening to music.
    • Make your bedroom an oasis for sleep by removing clutter, shutting out light, using a white noise machine and buying a quality mattress.

Sleep deprivation affects your physical, mental and emotional health. Take steps today to recover from those days when you don’t get enough sleep, and try to avoid sleep deprivation all together by practicing good sleep hygiene to stay healthy and well-rested.

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