Daily stress, lack of time, work, leisure, and changing schedules often cause many people not to get enough sleep to recover, which takes its toll on health and it is also common not to do so. the usual way.
Some of these people try to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of sleep deprivation on a regular basis by getting more sleep. But, How to recover hours of sleep? Is it possible? Let’s take a look at it throughout this article.
The importance of sleep
Sleep is a very important physiological process that we perform not only in humans, but also in a large part of animals. During this process, although our brain does not stop functioning, our brain activity and the waves it produces changes, so that our body’s management organ is allowed to reduce energy use. and start a self-repair process.
It is a vital phenomenon, in the literal sense: sleep deprivation can have serious repercussions and if stored for too long it can lead to death.
Sleep is an active and highly structured process in which cycles formed by different phases are repeated regularly, in each of which different types of brain activity take place.
More precisely, we go through four phases of No-REM sleep (of which the first two correspond to falling asleep and light sleep and the last two would correspond to the sleep of slow and deep waves, in which rest occurs) and one of REM sleep (in which the brain has similar activity to waking state and is believed to have to do with processing information obtained during the day).
This process is therefore a fundamental thing, and its realization in a reduced or insufficient way entails that our body is not able to regenerate itself completely, So that different kinds of consequences may appear.
Among the different consequences, we can find fatigue, problems with concentration and memory, decreased sensitivity to insulin, obesity and the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, increased risk of problems cardiovascular disease and even a significant reduction in life expectancy. or an increased likelihood of premature death. On the other hand, excessive sleep is also not good, as it can also generate many of the problems described above.
So, it is advisable to have sleep schedules between seven and eight hours, Being less than six and still nine something harmful.
Getting back to sleep … is it possible?
People who sleep poorly often wonder how it is possible to get back hours of sleep. While later we will point out some useful practices to improve our energy and rest levels, we must keep in mind that although it seems to us that after having slept too much after having been a short season of sleep, it may seem like we wake up energetic and totally refreshing in fact science shows that the consequences of sleep deprivation remain.
Not that sleeping is useless, but it’s true sleep care allows partial recovery: Some of the lost sleep is not recovered.
Evidence of lingering consequences
Most studies seem to show that, in fact, we don’t fully recover those hours of sleep we have lost. Or at least, that its consequences remain.
In people who slept five hours or less per day during the week, whether or not they increased sleep hours to try to regain energy, it was observed that the need for energy consumption and metabolism are altered. This disorder facilitates, among other things, the onset of obesity.
Related to this, a greater propensity for type 2 diabetes has also been detected, as insulin sensitivity is reduced in the body as well.
It has also been observed that energy levels and remain lower than usual after the first few hours, as well as increased levels of drowsiness and physical and mental fatigue. Our reflexes remain reduced, as does our ability to focus sustainably, which makes more sense if we think we are talking about five days a week to get little sleep and only two more.
Yes, some improvements are observed
However, it is true that data shows that people who do not sleep for a long time in an attempt to recover for hours have their insulin sensitivity altered throughout the body, while those who regain sensitivity decrease in more areas. specific.
On top of that, a recent study published in the Journal of Sleep Research seems to indicate that while it doesn’t eliminate all of the bad effects of lack of sleep, regain hours of sleep on the weekends. that the life expectancy of people who resort to this practice is equal to the time with which they sleep seven hours a day.
This is particularly relevant in relation to people who sleep less than five hours a day and cannot get back to sleep: the risk of premature death increases considerably. Of course, the data shows that the risk only increases with prolonged weekend sleep.
Also, weekend recoveries seem to help control disturbances that lack of sleep generates in blood pressure in adults, as well as the reduced risk of obesity in children (compared to the risk that exists if you do not try to recover with a prolonged period of sleep).
How to seek restful sleep and how to try to recover for hours
Too little sleep and too much sleep can be bad, but as a general rule, the former is much more common and widespread. We slept little for many reasons, often for external reasons like work or internal schedules such as anxiety. And it’s common for this pattern to repeat over and over again, leaving us exhausted. How can we recover those hours of lost sleep or at least get rid of some of the fatigue that this causes?
1. Make it a part of your sleep schedule
We have already seen that sleep is necessary. Regardless of anything we need to do or want to enjoy the time, the first step is to plan a space in which we can rest. It is advisable to do this daily, so that we have a healthy routine.
If we do not sleep well at night, it is advisable to eliminate any daytime naps. Now, if there is not enough sleep during the night, whether we are taking naps or not, and although naps are not the best idea for getting quality sleep, they can help us regain energy in one go. .
2. Keep an audio diary
Another useful strategy is to keep track of how long we sleep. We are not talking about going to bed with a stopwatch, but about count the approximate time we have slept and, if possible, any stimuli or causes that we believe may be having difficulty keeping to a normal schedule. It also serves to reflect on how to improve our schedules.
3. If you sleep little day to day, enjoy the holidays
If for various reasons it is not possible to sleep normally, a useful practice may be to devote weekends and vacations to recovering energy. As we saw above the hours of sleep they do not fully recover and some difficulties will continue to exist, but they allow for partial recovery.
3. No to caffeine and other stimulants
Drinking coffee, tea, energy drinks, and other substances are common practices that we usually use to stay energetic. It is a useful strategy in this regard, especially if it is administered with adequate sleep schedules or in which we have sporadically slept less than normal.
However, if sleep disturbances are common, the consumption of these substances is not recommended.
While in the morning it may be good to get rid of, we should avoid it at least in the afternoon, So that fatigue can lead us to sleep naturally. This is especially relevant if the causes of sleep deprivation are internal, such as anxiety, since the consumption of stimulants in this case stimulates nerve activation.
4. Prepare the environment before going to bed
It should be noted that there are many stimuli there that can cause problems with restful sleep and make it difficult to catch up on lost sleep. In this regard, we must keep in mind that we need to limit or eliminate the presence of screen lights (Computers, mobiles), try to stay in an area with a relatively constant temperature and enough space to rest comfortably.
5. The bed for sleeping
Another problem that can make it difficult to sleep is the fact that we regularly use our bed for other activities and even for work or study. This way, our body will not connect the bed to rest but to activity, This will make it difficult to fall asleep and recover from the lost hours. We reserve the bed to sleep, or at most to maintain relationships.
6. Exercise, but not before bedtime
Another strategy that can help us regain sleep is by getting tired while exercising. however, we need to limit exercise as we get closer to bed: The practice of the exercise generates an activation of the body which will make it difficult to sleep if it is done before going to bed.
7. If you find that you are not sleeping, do not stay in bed.
Often people with insomnia and other sleep problems often stay in bed even though they can’t fall asleep. The truth is, the best thing to do if that doesn’t work is to get up and ventilate a bit, avoiding stimuli like cell phones and televisions.
If necessary, we can do a simple and automatic activity, but not something stimulating, physically demanding or fun or it might enlighten us.
8. Relaxation techniques
Practicing relaxation techniques can be helpful, especially if one of the causes of sleep deprivation is anxiety.
Some of the simplest and most basic are breathing. To give an example: Take air through your nose for five seconds, filling your stomach before your lungs, hold for five seconds, then breathe out through your mouth, emptying your stomach and lungs for another five. Doing this for three minutes can help you relax, which may make it easier to sleep.
There are many other variations as well, but they usually require prior training. Practices that work with muscle tension and distension can be practiced, such as Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation.
- Åkerstedt, T., Ghilotti, F., Grotta, A., Zhao, H., Adami, HO, Trolle-Lagerros, Y. and Bellocco, R. (2018). Sleep duration and mortality: is it important to sleep on weekends? Journal of Sleep Research, 28 (1).
- Depner, CM, Melanson, EL, Eckel, RH, Snell-Bergeon, JK, Perreault, L., Bergman, BC, Higgins, JA, Guerin, MK, Stothard, ER, Morton, SJ, Wright, KP (2019). Adequate sleep on weekends cannot prevent metabolic deregulation during a repetitive pattern of insufficient sleep and recovery sleep on weekends. Current Biology, 29 (6).
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