Countless people around the world experience some degree of sleep deprivation. With busy schedules and barely any free time to breathe, it’s no surprise that some are not receiving the 7 hours of sleep minimum they require.
The problem is that sleep deprivation has long-lasting effects. When you wrack up a sleep debt, you damage your body. Unfortunately, repaying a sleep debt isn’t as easy as it sounds, and most medical professionals are quite clear about the fact that this isn’t something even possible to do.
A lack of sleep can cause a wide variety of symptoms. It can cause decreased positive thinking and result in difficulty concentrating. In worst-case scenarios, it can result in severe health problems. But is it a complete, end-of-the-world loss if you are sleep deprived?
The good news is that this is not the case. Although it can be tricky, you can work to ease the symptoms and negative responses to a lack of sleep. Here is how scientists explain five ways to reverse the effects of sleep deprivation.
1. Reversing Illness and Disease Risk
Sleep deprivation has shockingly negative effects on the immune system. The more tired you feel, the more likely it is that your immunity has been weakened, along with immune signaling. Immune signaling is crucial to ensure disease prevention, telling our body what to do and how to fight off infection or illness when they first begin to take root.
This means that when you get less sleep, you are automatically opening yourself up to the chances of becoming ill more often. And if your sleep deprivation is a result of long work hours, you’ll be getting much less done when you’re feeling poorly – so staying up to finish work is counter-productive.
On top of that, people who have trouble with insomnia – whether that difficulty is with falling asleep, staying asleep, or both – usually suffer from terrible sleep quality. This can actually increase the risk of developing cancer, especially of the breast and prostate variety. It can also up chances of developing disease due to inflammation, even more so of the heart.
If your issue is with poor immunity, it’s time to make good habits elsewhere.
- Give up vices such as smoking and drinking.
- Both of these items can cause difficulty sleeping, to begin with, and they severely worsen sleep quality.
Cigarettes contain chemicals that lead to inflammation and excessive sleepiness. Alcohol, on the other hand, removes the restorative phase of the natural sleep cycle. It might make you fall asleep faster, but it prevents your body from repairing itself properly, which is bad for disease prevention.
- If your trouble is with insomnia, you may want to try limiting your access to brightness and light later at night.
- Bright light can make you feel more awake (including illumination from your ceiling lamps, screens, and even from sunsets).
- You can also use these bright lights to help re-regulate your sleep patterns and move them to the correct times as needed – but do so with caution.
- Use bright lights during your waking hours to make you more awake and alert. Then keep yourself in dim lights or darkness when you need to sleep.
- You can even invest in black-out curtains or a good sleep mask if you’re a night shift worker who sleeps during mornings and afternoons.
2. Reversing Cognitive Effects
A lack of sleep can cause issues with cognitive functions. It can cause memory and concentration problems, decreased positive thinking, and overall lower productivity and performance in most tasks. This means that you are more likely to make mistakes and get into accidents when suffering sleep deprivation.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t just mean dropping your pen two times too many or forgetting to bring your keys. It means potentially getting into life-threatening car accidents and making near-fatal errors. In fact, statistics show that driving with sleep deprivation is just as dangerous as – if not more than – driving drunk.
Your decision-making abilities will also likely be impaired by insufficient sleep. You may forget a lot of things, find yourself incapable of picking up new skills, or simply perform poorly everywhere you go. This is because your body isn’t aiming to thrive and succeed; it’s aiming to keep you going despite a desperate need to crash.
So, what can you do about this? You can attempt a practice known as yogic sleep or yoga nigra. If you need a little pick-me-up but can’t afford to take a nap, perform half an hour of yoga nidra. This ancient form of exercise can provide positive meditative and relaxing qualities. Some have found that it works just as well as (and sometimes better than) taking a nap.
- Opting to keep your mobile phone away from you at least 60 minutes prior to bedtime can also help.
- Not only will you sleep more soundly, but you also will not suffer sleep disturbances as severely.
- This is because the blue light from a smartphone, as well as the electromagnetic frequencies from it, may be telling your brain it is morning and time to get up, instead of helping you wind down before sleeping.
3. Reversing Hormonal Imbalance In Men
Erectile dysfunction and other forms of performance problems can be a huge hit on a man’s self-esteem. The good news is that if you are facing this issue and aren’t getting enough sleep, the secret might be as simple as getting a bit more shuteye.
Chronic sleepiness has the ability to cause testosterone levels to drop, which can reduce overall intimacy drive and lead to poor bedroom performance. Pay extra attention if you also have sleep apnea, which is the most common sleep-related cause for this kind of hormonal imbalance in men.
Often, those who experience lackluster bedroom performance due to sleep deprivation find themselves waking up a lot at night. They are unable to sleep through the whole evening, causing broken sleep cycles that do not provide sufficient restorative properties.
The Importance of Exercise
To help cure this, exercise may be in order. Not only does working out build stamina for more bedroom action, but it can also make you feel more tired when night falls. Just make sure you’re working out early in the morning, not later in the evening.
Morning workouts will fill you with energy, providing a burst that you can use throughout the day. Then, when it’s time to hit the sack, you’ll be nice and sleepy thanks to the added physical activity.
4. Reversing Weight Gain
When your night’s sleep is not enough, you’re running low on energy. This can cause your body to crave more fuel, resulting in more hunger and a need for more food and drink. Your body will also not be making a lot of serotonin, so the food it will be craving is likely not going to be healthy.
This means you may start eating more processed foods, sugary treats, and similar consumables. It won’t be long after before you start noticing extra pounds piling on. This can lead to insulin resistance as your body doesn’t process the sugary and processed items properly, instead requiring proper nutrients that do not feel as satisfying.
Fortunately, working them off can be as simple as opting for a healthier diet and going for exercise routines as dictated in our previous points, but there are other things you can do. Mainly, you need to fix your sleep schedule – and your best bet is to start avoiding caffeine.
- Caffeine keeps you awake, and drinking any after 2 pm can make it even more difficult to fall asleep on time.
- Plus, it can make you jittery and anxious, which will only serve to increase cravings.
- Then, caving into those cravings will give you more of a sugar high jitteriness. It’s a vicious cycle.
- Remember, caffeine isn’t just from coffee; it can be found in sodas, teas, and even certain types of chocolate.
5. Reversing Feelings Of Depression
A lack of sleep affects the brain in countless ways. Sometimes, sleep deprivation can lead to the development of depression and anxiety – even if you’re only losing tiny amounts of sleep at a time.
If you notice that you’re less cheerful, feeling listless or down, experiencing decreased positive thinking, or getting unusually jumpy, take a look at your sleep schedule. This is especially true if the reason for a decrease in sleep time is due to a stressful or tiring situation.
But how can you combat these feelings of depression? If you’ve been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, is there truly a way to reverse this effect? Not exactly, but there are some options available to you. The easiest one to focus on is your diet.
Diet has been linked to depression countless times by many different studies. A positive diet can astonishingly reduce depressive symptoms, sometimes to the point where criteria for depression is no longer met. This is because eating the right foods and increase the production of good hormones while preventing sugar crashes.
So what foods should you go for? Opt for leafy greens, fruit, healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates. Plant-based meals are always your best bet. Some examples include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Fatty fish (such as salmon or tuna)
- Beans and legumes
- Olive oil
- Dark chocolate
As a rule, keep away from highly processed foods or ones with empty calories. Always speak to a doctor before making drastic changes in your diet.
Final Thoughts On Ways To Reverse The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation
It is difficult to reverse the effects of sleep deprivation, but with enough effort and understanding, you can take steps to better yourself and improve your health. Working to pay off your sleep debt is a difficult task, but it is possible.
Do note, however, that reversing sleep deprivation damage is harder than it sounds. This is not something you want to be doing after continually wracking up sleep debt. Medical professionals everywhere are quite clear about the fact that no matter how much work you put into paying off a sleep debt, you are still likely to find yourself suffering ill effects.
If you have been dealing with sleep deprivation up to today, it’s time to make a change! Sleep deprivation causes more difficulty than can be easily cured, and many of its effects are long-lasting. If the deprivation lasts too long, little can be done to reverse it.
Your best bet is to begin improving your sleep schedule right away and start attempting to get the necessary 7-9 hours of nightly sleep required. With a better sleep schedule working hand-in-hand with these effect reversal efforts, you will soon find your way to better health.