Feel Great After a Bad Night of Sleep
By Jerilyn Covert
Late nights happen. The baby cries; you put on “just one” episode of Stranger Things. Then you wake up feeling out of whack. Here’s how to put a bad night’s sleep to rest
Spend a few minutes quietly watching your thoughts go by, says Jason Ong, a sleep psychologist and mindfulness expert at Northwestern University. Self-awareness will help you cope with the day’s challenges.
Play a video game or read on a laptop for 10 minutes, says W. Chris Winter, author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It. The blue light tells your brain to halt production of sleep-promoting melatonin.
Achy back? Poor sleep may disrupt pain regulation systems in your brain. Do the runner’s stretch, Dr Winter says. Sit on the floor, extend one leg, and reach for your toes, keeping your back straight. Switch legs and repeat.
Have sex. The surge of serotonin will help you wake up, says Dr Winter. Even better, make morning sex a habit: it’ll signal the start of your day and jumpstart your internal clock, which may help you sleep better later tonight.
Have some eggs with hot sauce. Protein plus spice is a recipe for alertness, says Dr Winter. Your body converts protein’s amino acids into brain food, while spicy foods interrupt sleep signals.
Choose your three most important tasks for today and back-burner the rest. Help your company out: employers sustain billions a year in losses due to sleepy workers’ low productivity, the Rand Corporation reports.
Scott from marketing sends you a typo-filled report. Of course he did! Take deep breaths, says Aric Prather, a sleep researcher at UC San Francisco. Sleep deprivation impairs your ability to handle frustrating situations.
Use your lunch break to do something you actually enjoy – you’ll feel more energised, studies suggest. Cardio in particular can boost alertness, says Dr Winter, and heading outdoors to get a dose of sunlight also helps.
Craving sugar? In a study published in Sleep Health, people who logged five hours of sleep or less drank 21% more soda than those who slept seven to eight hours. Snack on fresh fruit or a piece of dark chocolate instead.
Stash coffee beans in your drawer. Take a whiff: the smell can boost alertness, says Wendy Troxel, a behavioural scientist. And it won’t disrupt that night’s sleep the way an afternoon cup of coffee might.
The missus wants to see the in-laws on Sunday. Tell her you’d rather decide later. When you sleep poorly, you’re less empathetic, more conflict-prone and less effective at problem solving, Troxel’s research suggests.
Disconnect. No more phone or computer and their rousing light. If you absolutely must use your computer, use a screen filter or install f.lux, a free program that alters the light quality of your screen so it’s less stimulating.
Hungry? You might just be tired. But if you’re sure it’s true hunger, have a bowl of oatmeal, walnuts, and dried tart cherries. All three can boost your serotonin and/or melatonin levels and help you sleep, says Dr Winter.
Go to bed only when you feel sleepy, says Ong. To increase your odds of restful slumber, make sure the bedroom is dark and cool, and read a book if you want (just be sure it’s the printed kind). You made it. Goodnight!
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