Are you staying up too late?

Whether it’s cramming for an exam, partying into the wee hours or picking up the overnight shift at work, the brain drain from no sleep is a struggle. Beyond being tired the next day, regularly skipping sleep and staying up late can have long-term effects on your body

Staying up late can be fun and productive …until the next morning.

“Sleep is as essential as anything in our lives,” says Kimberly Wendt, a nurse practitioner with Aurora Health Care based in Lake Geneva, Wis. “It gives us the physical rest our bodies need and the time our minds need to strengthen and restore themselves.”

The damage

The immediate effects are clear. When you’re on no sleep, it’s easy to become irritable and cranky. It’s also tough to focus. Easy tasks become difficult, and our decision making can become poor.

But the deeper dangers linger in the background. Sleep deprivation can have a big effect on both short-term and long-term memory.

“Sleep helps your brain process memories. When you’re up all night, that process is interrupted, and those memories are often gone,” says Wendt.

Sleep debt can also build up. It’s the difference between the number of hours you sleep and the amount you get. Even after one night, all those missed zzzs begin to bank, and the cumulative effect is linked to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

How to bounce back

The best relief is getting some shuteye. Resetting your sleep cycle the night after an all-nighter can get you back on track. But, if you love late nights or a lack of sleep is just a way of life, Wendt says following these tips will help you grind through the next day.

  • While it might seem tough, try and be productive early in the day. Your energy levels and focus will fade as the day moves on.
  • Following morning routines will give you a physical and mental boost. These include bathing, brushing your teeth, doing your hair or makeup and getting dressed.
  • Eat well, stay hydrated and try to avoid eating empty calories and fast food.
  • Drink coffee or a caffeinated beverage for a brief energy boost. But, when the crash comes…
  • Grab a quick nap, if possible. Even 15-30 minutes will help you recharge and feel refreshed.
  • Exercise and working out with whatever energy you do have can help shake the doldrums and help you snap out of your slumber.
  • Get outside. Spending time in the daylight will help align your biological clock and make you less sleepy.

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