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.
Janet Solyntjes, cofounder, Center for Courageous Living, Boulder, Colorado
- Pause your work.
Inactivity stagnates energy, especially when you’re behind a computer. Mindful movement and energy awareness help synchronize your mind with your body, reawakening natural energy. Reach arms above your head and stretch deeply. Take a break from opening emails. For more relaxation, place hands at the base of your head and gently stretch your neck.
- Stimulate the senses.
When you miss sleep, artificial light from computers, televisions, or fluorescent office tubes can be draining, interrupting circadian rhythm—physical, mental, and behavioral changes from light and darkness. Being outside is valuable because you are exposed to sunlight and can engage your senses with the natural world. Go for a 20-minute walk and focus on what you see, smell, and hear.
- Enhance sleep you do get.
When you’re exhausted, there can be a disconnect between mind and body. Try gentle yoga, at-home stretching, or a body scan—devoting moment-to-moment attention to your body as it is. Focus on calm breaths and stretches, rather than challenging poses. Breathe deeply before bed, noticing where you feel tension.