4 Powerful Tips to Recover from Sleep Deprivation

There are some exciting changes in my life right now, and my sleep gets affected whenever things change. Even though I set my alarm for eight hours every night, I get far less than eight hours on these nights after all the tossing and turning. I feel really lousy when I wake up in the morning after such a night.

Sleep deprivation has been scientifically proven to slow down cognitive performance. It degrades alertness and concentration, makes logical reasoning difficult, and impairs judgement and decision-making. Sleep deprivation also has an effect on mood. It makes individuals irritable, easily susceptible to stress, and less friendly (me!).

Because I experience such nights once in a while, I decided to search for some fool-proof steps to make the next day better (or more bearable). I still want to make the next day count, have a productive, meaningful day, and feel energized and positive.

Keep these tips in mind if you are prone to having a bad night’s sleep every now and then!

01 | Focus on Eating Well 

Make a green smoothie - Eat well to recover from sleep deprivation

It is easy to give up on eating well especially when you are feeling lousy. Making healthy food decisions is definitely not easy in a state of sleep deprivation. I remember times when I was just too tired (or too grumpy actually) to prepare meals for myself. So I ate whatever I could find in the fridge, or simply ate out. This always spirals into a vicious cycle whereby I would continue to feel poorly and sleep poorly for the next couple of days, which makes the ‘recovery period’ from a bad night’s sleep even longer.

Especially for the day after, avoid consuming meals high in sugar and fat (I’m looking at you, fast food!). Our body finds it difficult to process sugar the next day after a bad night’s sleep. It thus stores any excess sugar as fat, and having to overload the body with digesting too much fat also makes us feel sluggish.

Your first meal for the day should be made up of complex carbohydrates and proteins (e.g. whole meal toast and scrambled eggs). You should also eat small meals throughout the day, to keep your blood sugar level even.

02 | Load Up On Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Foods 

Sleep deprivation creates oxidative stress on the body, which lowers our immune system. The lack of sleep thus makes us more susceptible to catching colds and other illnesses. Studies have also shown that long-term sleep deprivation leads to premature aging (wrinkles!).

To counter and reverse the effects of oxidative stress, load up on foods that are anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. Anti-inflammatory foods are such as ginger, cinnamon, raw honey, turmeric, and salmon. Examples of antioxidant-rich foods are wild berries, oranges, mangoes, and green tea.

My favorites consist of poached salmon, oatmeal porridge with mixed summer berries, (definitely!) a smoothie bowl, warm turmeric milk, and sipping green tea throughout the day. So many choices for one day!

03 | Get Moving

Man stretching by the river

You do not have to do a complete workout, and it does not have to be immediately after getting up from bed. I personally find it extremely difficult to exercise after a bad night’s sleep when I am feeling physically tired. I tend to have a bad workout session (and risk injury!) and it contributes to the negative, self-defeating mood for the rest of the day. Instead, I wait a couple of hours after breakfast when I am feeling physically and emotionally better. I also try to time my workout sessions just before lunch.

If you can, go for a short walk on the treadmill or outdoors. Do some simple stretching exercises, or go for a light yoga class. Remember that your body isn’t functioning at its best after a bad night’s sleep, but moving helps to circulate the blood around the body.

04 | Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

I always feel very frustrated the morning after a bad night’s sleep. A lot of the frustration is due to the biological effects of sleep deprivation. When we are sleep deprived, our brain receptors do not get enough time to regenerate. However, a lot of the frustration also comes from my own expectations. Such as … I have been working on a fixed sleep schedule, why couldn’t I fall asleep!? Or I have a packed schedule today, I have no time to be unproductive!!

Lousy thoughts generate and contribute to a lousy mood (I am so guilty of this!). To change your mood, you would first have to change your thoughts. Stop going over things that have already happened i.e. things that you cannot change. What we don’t realize is that by having lousy thoughts, we are unconsciously making a decision to have a lousy day. Instead, make a conscious decision to have a GREAT day, and your thoughts and actions will be primed towards creating the great day.

This takes some trial and error, but find out what are your mood-lifters. It may be a particular type of music, a fruity bath gel, a special order of coffee, a hug from someone special, or a particular meditation track. For me, Alesso is my instant mood-lifter. It makes me feel lighter, and helps me focus and work productively, which I really need after a bad night’s sleep.

And these are the four tips I have for recovering from a bad night’s sleep! They are fool-proof because they do work, but it takes a bit of discipline (even for me!) to follow them especially in a state of sleep-deprivation. There were days whereby I feel too tired to take care and pay some attention to myself, but think this way – do you want to feel the same way when you wake up tomorrow?

If you found this post useful, do share this with your friends or leave a comment below. What are some of the other tips you have used to recover from a bad night’s sleep?

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