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.
Edward Bixler, PhD, Penn State Hershey Medical Center
- Understand your sleep needs. Six to eight hours of sleep per night is an average figure. Some people need more; others perform optimally with less. Figuring out how much sleep you need is the first step to handling sleep deprivation. Ask yourself your probability of falling asleep after lunch, while riding as a passenger in a car,reading a book, or watching television. If the likelihood is high, you’re not meeting your sleep requirements.
- Boost immunity. Lack of sleep can impair your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and flus and even more tired. To prevent sickness, eat smart. Choose unprocessed foods as much as possible, including vitamin C–rich fruits and vegetables like strawberries and broccoli.
- Develop a pattern. Some studies suggest people, especially women, can replenish lost sleep.For example, if you sleep six hours per night during the week but need more, make up some of the hours over the weekend. Developing regular wake and sleep schedules helps your body adapt to the rhythm of snoozing less during the week and more on the weekend. This can increase mental performance and reduce long-term stress.