Combating Sleep Deprivation
Episode #3 of the course The science of sleep: learn how to improve your sleep by Somni
If on the quiz from the last lesson your score indicated that you were sleep-deprived, don’t worry—today we will address that and help you reduce your sleep deprivation.
First, it’s important to examine the negative effects on your emotional, behavioral, biological, and mental health that may result from sleep deprivation. A glimpse into some of the many effects of sleep deprivation can be seen below:
● Less ability to experience pleasure
● Irritability and negative moods
● Slowing of mental process
● Decrease in short-term memory
● Decline in logical reasoning ability
● Decrease in creativity and mental flexibility
● Heart palpitations
● Fall in body temperature
● Difficulty concentrating
● Less desire to socialize
After just one night without adequate sleep, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol can be seen the following day. People who get less than a full night’s sleep feel significantly less happy, more stressed, more physically frail, and more mentally and physically exhausted as a result.
The body physiology is also impacted by sleep deprivation. After just one week without appropriate amounts of sleep, we see more than 700 genes affected that are involved in processing stress and regulating our immune system. Some of the long-term effects of chronic partial sleep deprivation include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and memory impairments.
How to Combat Sleep Deprivation
Because most sleep deprivation is the result of the wrong sleep habits, you can learn to change your behaviors. Just like you have learned other skills, you can learn to change your sleep.
One of the best ways to start to improve the amount of sleep you get each night and to combat sleep deprivation is to track your current sleeping patterns and become more aware of the quality of your sleep. Doing so is as simple as writing down how much you sleep each night, recognizing how alert and rested you feel in the morning and noticing how sleepy you feel during the following day. Once you gain further awareness of the quality of your sleep, you’ll be able to pinpoint just what changes you need to make in order to be at your best.
Additionally, keep in mind that only sleep can reverse the effects of lost sleep. Caffeine, exercise, stimulation, and the like can reduce the effects a bit but not reverse the loss. However, it’s important to note that make-up sleep does not have to equal (hour for hour) the time lost, as recovery sleep is of a greater intensity and efficiency.
What You Can Do to Improve Your Sleep
1. Begin a sleep journal to record your sleep habits and raise your awareness. Simply start by recording how much sleep you get tonight and rate the quality on a scale of 1-10. Do this for the next 10 days.
2. Start small; try to get just 20 more minutes a night to begin reducing your sleep deprivation!
3. Remove caffeine from your diet after 11 am; caffeine will stay in the blood for up to 24 hours and can be one of the biggest impediments to proper sleep. Learn more.
4. Consider installing f.lux and turning down the lights during the late evening to try not to expose yourself to blue light from the TV, e-readers, and bright lighting.
Tomorrow, we will help you understand if you are either genetically a morning or evening person and what to do about it!
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