Use these proven strate­gies to catch up on lost sleep.

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First off, one thing needs clar­i­fy­ing: If you feel alert and happy through­out the day, chances are you’re get­ting enough sleep, even if you’re not clock­ing the rec­om­mended amount, says Jim Horne, a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of psy­chophys­i­ol­ogy at Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity in Eng­land and the au­thor of Sleep­less­ness. And when­ever a cou­ple of nights, or even a full week, of bad sleep leaves you drag­ging, it’s still not a cri­sis – you can undo the dam­age. “There have been a lot of warn­ings that if you don’t get seven or eight hours ev­ery night, you’ll de­velop high blood pres­sure, di­a­betes, or obe­sity,” Jim says. “But the ev­i­dence shows that’s not true.” To get back on track af­ter a few lousy nights, fol­low these easy re­search-based strate­gies. Don’t worry about a one-off Your body bounces back from a sin­gle sleep­less (or al­most sleep­less) night on its own by in­stinc­tively in­creas­ing the amount of deep sleep – the most restora­tive, health-boost­ing type – the next night, re­search from North­west­ern Univer­sity shows. To give it an as­sist, take a few min­utes when­ever you can through­out the day to med­i­tate or clear your mind. Your body may even start re­cov­er­ing dur­ing those mo­ments of re­lax­ation, Jim says. To re­ally jump-start the process, try tak­ing a short nap if you can. Prac­tice the ⅓ plan Thank­fully, you don’t have to pay back ev­ery hour of lost sleep. “It’s the deep sleep that you re­ally need to make up, and this is gen­er­ally just one-third of the to­tal sleep you lost,” Jim says. So if you fall short by an hour or so ev­ery night of the work­week – los­ing around seven hours to­tal – you need to sleep only two to three ex­tra hours over the week­end to re­gain lost deep sleep. Bonus: Naps count to­ward your goal. The key is to get that ex­tra sleep as soon as you pos­si­bly can, says David Dinges, the chief of the di­vi­sion of Sleep and Chrono­bi­ol­ogy in Psy­chi­a­try at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia. The longer you go with­out mak­ing up the time, the more likely you are to feel groggy and cranky. Front-load your catch-up z’s It may be health­ier to go to bed ear­lier when you’re get­ting your makeup sleep than to snooze un­til noon. “The bulk of your deep sleep oc­curs dur­ing the first few hours af­ter you drift off,” Jim says. The last hours of sleep are shal­lower and not as restora­tive. Be­sides that, “the time you wake up sets your bi­o­log­i­cal clock. If you sleep in late, you’ll dis­rupt that clock, and you’re more likely to have dif­fi­cul­ties drift­ing off the fol­low­ing night,” says Jer­ald Sim­mons, founder of Com­pre­hen­sive Sleep Medicine As­so­ci­ates, a chain of clin­i­cal sleep cen­tres in Texas. The bot­tom line: Snooz­ing an ex­tra hour or two on week­end morn­ings is fine, but more than that can back­fire.

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