This topic hits home for me right now. BIG TIME. Sleep deprivation SUCKS. And unfortunately, I am no stranger to it.
I have two toddlers. So that in itself makes sleep hard. But add the fact that I am the lightest sleeper on the planet, wake up to every noise, take FORVER to fall back asleep, AND have massive anxiety issues, I miss sleep a LOT.
With sleep deprivation affecting your physical and mental health, it’s important to “catch up on sleep” to feel normal again. But how long does that actually take?
This new study shows that thirteen people in their 20s who slept 30% less than needed for ten nights still hadn’t fully recovered most of their cognitive processing, even after seven nights of good sleep to recover.
“Reaction times improved over seven days and returned to baseline levels while other cognitive tasks including accuracy did not completely recover.Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla
A chronic lack of sleep affects your ability to pay attention, solve problems and make decisions. And I can attest to that. I’m currently zoning out while writing this because my daughter broke her foot and I’ve been up with her every night this week.
I am usually VERY sharp minded and running around like crazy completing tasks and burning energy. Today…I’m a sloth. I’m sitting as much as I can, and taking much longer to complete simple tasks.
So how long does it take to recover?
“We do not know that exactly. This study shows that maybe some tasks, especially in younger patients, can take longer to recover following sleep deprivation. We need to prioritize sleep and try and get at least seven hours each night. When we cannot, making sure that we have some time to recoup and being aware that the sleep deprivation impacts our mood and cognition is important.”Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla
Not smoking and keeping alcohol intake to a minimum can help you get better sleep. Eating well, exercising, staying mentally active, and keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels good will improve sleep as well.
Creating a bedtime routine that helps you relax can also help. But this means no TV, smartphone or other blue-light emitting device at least one to two hours before bed.
It can take days, maybe even weeks, to catch up on your sleep. The best thing you can do is be proactive and take the steps to never get to that point unless absolutely necessary.