One sleepless night can leave you lacking energy for the next, so how do you recover from a sleepless night?
No matter how bad sleep loss can be for your body, it’s hard to get rid of staying up all night. Maybe you’ve been trying in the middle of the night to get some extra work done, go through all-nighters, or you’ve woken up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. In any case, losing sleep all night can make the next day difficult. But according to sleep psychologist Dr. Joshua Tal, the sleepiness of someone who hasn’t slept through the night doesn’t really last that long. As for exactly how long it takes to recover from sleep deprivation, the answer depends on what led to your nighttime insomnia and also on your approach to the situation.
* Change your approach to sleep.
You should make sleep a priority – especially since getting enough sleep is linked to the health of so many of your body’s systems, but be wary of over-prioritizing it. “I always tell my patients not to turn sleep into a one-sided love,” says Dr. Tal. The more you chase sleep and let it turn into something you desperately want but can’t have, the further you push it away.”
Instead, make proactive decisions to master sleep anytime, anywhere, and see each night as another positive opportunity to get the sleep you need. However, this is a different situation from chronic insomnia or comorbidities, both of which must be treated with the assistance of a medical professional.
* Take a nap the next afternoon.
If you feel extremely sleepy the next day, you might consider taking a nap to help reset your body and restore alertness. A 30-minute nap can help you fight fatigue and even improve your mood without affecting your ability to fall asleep at night.
* Go back to your normal sleep schedule the next night.
Returning to a normal night’s sleep after a bout of insomnia helps maintain your circadian rhythm (it’s your internal 24-hour clock that makes you fall asleep at the same time . every morning). If you feel tired in the evening after a sleepless night, you can go to bed a little earlier, but Dr. Tal recommends not adjusting your usual bedtime beyond an hour.
* Do not oversleep.
To understand why oversleeping can make matters worse, Dr. Tal compares sleep to chocolate cake. “If someone didn’t eat a chocolate cake one day, you wouldn’t ask them if they’d like two slices of cake to make up for it the next day.
Sleep is self-regulating, so whenever you have a sleepless night, your body can adjust by giving you a higher quality of sleep for the next few nights, even when you are sleeping for the total time as usual. Therefore, when you lack sleep for a night, don’t worry too much because you can rest assured that your body will adjust to sleep on its own.
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