Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep can contribute to depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Your best prevention: Get more rest. But sometimes, that’s simply not an option. Use these expert tips to alleviate sleep-deprivation symptoms like irritability, lack of focus, and sluggishness, plus lessen long-term ill effects.
Roy Upton, RH, executive director, American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Scotts Valley, California
- Support adrenals with adaptogens.
When you are sleep deprived, the adrenal glands’ stress response produces the hormone adrenaline, leading to nervous energy and lack of focus. Adaptogenic supplements help pacify adrenaline so you can regain mental equilibrium. Take 1–3 grams of dried powdered reishi per day or 1 gram of high-quality Asian ginseng as tea, extract, or powder between meals to increase long-lasting energy. Results may take up to a week.
- Ditch coffee.
It’s easy to reach for coffee when you haven’t gotten enough sleep, but stimulants can make you distracted and jittery. Instead, choose nervines, herbs used to calm nerves, support the nervous system, and provide sustained, relaxed energy. Taking 2–4 ml of avena extract (from fresh fruiting wild oat) per day can improve mental performance and increase stress resistance.
- Elevate heart rate.
Exercise increases circulation and speeds up your ability to process and eliminate adrenaline. Morning is best for exercising because it prepares your body’s metabolism for the day, improving efficiency, digestion, and respiratory function. Aim for at least 20 minutes of heart rate–boosting exercise daily.