Getting by without sleep is perhaps the most challenging thing to do. Extended work hours and critical deadlines can frequently push us to keep ourselves awake at night, resulting in a sleepless night and a draining day afterwards. How to manage without sleep remains an unanswered question as we seldom pause to consider the potential harm it can inflict upon us.
What is the ideal daily duration of sleep?
An estimated six to seven hours of sleep should suffice for you to feel properly rested and reinvigorated, according to Dr. Suchismitha Rajamanya, a specialist in Internal Medicine.
“Sufficient sleep is necessary for the body to support various crucial functions and facilitate optimal physical and mental performance. During this period, the body undergoes essential rejuvenating processes such as tissue repair and muscle growth. Additionally, ample sleep plays a critical role in regulating hormonal balance, immune function, and metabolism,” she explains.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2023 Sleep in America poll, approximately 65% of adults dissatisfied with their sleep patterns experience mild to severe depression. Therefore, while it’s commonly believed that a good night’s sleep is essential for managing the following day, there are also numerous other advantages to sleeping well at night.
Another study featured in The Lancet asserts that illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and cancer, are all tied to sleep disorders.
Struggling with insomnia? Soak your feet in warm water and sleep like a baby
How long does it take for the body to recuperate after a sleepless night?
Allowing the body to sleep more is the sole means to recover from a sleepless night. However, it will take days for the body to compensate for the lost sleep. “Being sleep-deprived, even for a mere 24 hours, is not acceptable,” Dr. Rajamanya cautions.
Select Topics of your interest and let us customize your feed.
She warns that sleep deprivation can impact your daily life. “Inadequate sleep can lead to diminished concentration, irritability, drowsiness, and reduced productivity. The resulting drowsiness can impair coordination and reaction time, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. Furthermore, decreased productivity and performance at work or school can further exacerbate the adverse effects of sleep deprivation,” she adds.
When does sleeplessness become a cause for concern?
A study published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine asserts that staying awake for 17-19 hours has the same impact on the body as having a blood alcohol content of 0.05%.
“Inadequate sleep becomes a concern when sleepless nights start affecting our capacity to function normally. They can impair our cognitive processes, concentration, and interfere with activities such as driving and heavy lifting, which can be perilous. Moreover, they have a significant impact on our mood,” Dr. Rajamanya cautions.
6 strategies to navigate the day following a sleepless night
If you’ve experienced an unavoidable sleepless night, consider employing these practical techniques to manage the following day.
1. Stay well-hydrated
Research published in Sleep emphasizes that if you feel fatigued the day after a sleepless night, you should increase your water intake. The study suggests that individuals who slept for six hours at night had more concentrated urine and experienced dehydration compared to those who slept for eight hours. Maintaining a healthy diet also contributes to better sleep.
2. Minimize strenuous activities
While opinions differ on whether you should engage in physical activity after a sleepless night, a study featured in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics highlights that getting less than eight hours of sleep can elevate the risk of injury by 1.7 times.
3. Refrain from tasks such as driving
A sleepless night will result in reduced alertness the following day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the United States, 6000 car accidents per year are attributable to sleep deprivation.
4. Avoid consuming caffeinated beverages
Excessive caffeine intake can also lead to sleep disturbances the following night! A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine indicates that consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime can significantly affect your sleep.
5. Aim to take a brief nap
A brief 10-15 minute nap, also known as a power nap, can not only help stave off drowsiness but also enhance cognitive performance, as per a study published in the Progress of Brain Research.
6. Refrain from making important decisions
Engaging in activities that require concentration while sleep-deprived will be incredibly challenging, cautions Dr. Rajamanya, and these activities should be avoided.