After a few sleepless nights, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been hit by a bus. This often makes your ability to perform at an optimal level diminish throughout the day. But don’t worry, we’ve found some solutions to help you bounce back after those sleepless nights of tossing and turning.
Dr. Amy Serin, neuropsychologist and co-founder of The TouchPoint Solution, suggests to start looking at your sleep environment and pre-bed habits to help shift your body into sleep mode.
“Look for the root cause of the lack of sleep and address it,” Serin said.
Checking that last Facebook or Snapchat post before you go to bed or watching a certain type of TV show you hit the hay could be adding to your sleepless night. Serin suggests setting bedtime boundaries and turning off your smartphone well before bed to allow your brain to switch to sleep mode.
“Technology creates two problems for sleep. Bright screen lights can confuse your brain into thinking it’s daytime and interfere with your sleep cycle. [As for TV programs,] the content you watch before bed is also a factor. Suspenseful TV shows can put your body into a stressful state, which is counterproductive for sleep. I recommend not having a TV in your bedroom and to turn off your phone and avoid bright lights before bedtime and create a peaceful sleeping environment.”
Grabbing a cat nap during the day after a restless night might be ok now and again, but creating a pattern of sleepless nights, and gulping caffeine at the office followed by an afternoon nap isn’t ideal. Serin suggests getting back to your regular sleep schedule as soon as possible.
“Taking naps and staying up late the following night can disrupt circadian rhythms and create a pattern of sleep problems rather than just dealing with one restless night. If you must nap, take a nap for only 10-30 minutes during the afternoon hours to give yourself a boost without impairing your ability to fall asleep at your usual bedtime.”
If you have too many thoughts racing through your head, some may try to use a sleep aid to counter their busy mind and fall asleep. Serin cautions the use of this method as you may not reach the deep stages of sleep that are required to feel rested the next day. Instead she suggests these sleep hacks before you go to bed:
“Your body needs to be able to be calm enough to fall sleep. Heating the body up and then cooling it down is a great sleep hack to replace sleeping pills. If you take a hot shower and then turn the water to cooler temperatures before you get out, this change in temperature can kickstart your body’s ability to start the sleep process. Also, if you have racing thoughts in your head, try writing your thoughts down before bed. Keep a pen and pad of paper next to your bed and write down the thoughts that won’t go away and trust yourself to take care of whatever is on your mind the following day.”
While eight hours of sleep is recommended, the reality is that we aren’t prioritizing our sleep schedule. Serin suggestions to first try to develop a set time to get to bed and make it a goal for 7 to 9 hours of shut eye versus making it up on the weekend.
“Try to go to bed around the same time every night and prioritize your sleep over everything else. Don’t fall into the habit of trying to ‘catch up’ on sleep on the weekends. Some research suggests getting more than 10 hours of sleep a night can have a negative impact on performance and mood in the same way that only getting 4 or 5 hours a night can cause, so it’s best to stay within the recommended range whenever possible.”
If you tried to relieve some stress during the day and still had a tough night, Serin said to expect that you might have some change in mood during the day and to try and engage in positive activities.
“Be mindful of how your brain is impaired after a night of sleeplessness. You may be irritable, less productive, more anxious, feel depressed, have more cravings and make more mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t on top of your game.
“Try to plan for a slightly earlier bedtime the next day and limit unnecessary events from your schedule. Practice healthier habits that day and try to exercise if possible. When you hop into bed at night, don’t worry about not sleeping well the night before. Remember, sleep is a natural state that your body wants you to go into, so calming down and surrendering to it is the best policy.”
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