Surviving without sleep is probably the hardest thing you can do. Long work hours and deadly deadlines can often lead to us forcing ourselves to be awake at night, leading to a sleepless night and an exhausting day afterward. How we can survive when we don’t sleep is a question that remains unanswered because we often don’t think about the amount of damage it can do to us.
How many hours of sleep are needed per day?
A sleep of six to seven hours would be enough to feel well rested and re-energized, says internal medicine specialist Dr Suchismitha Rajamanya.
“The body needs sufficient sleep to support various vital functions and promote optimal physical and mental performance. During this time, the body undergoes essential recovery processes, such as tissue repair and muscle growth. In addition, adequate sleep plays a crucial role in regulating hormonal balance, immune function and metabolism,” she says.
According to the 2023 Sleep in America survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 65% of adults who are unhappy with their sleep patterns suffer from mild or even severe depression. So while we’ve always heard that a good night’s sleep will help you get through the next day, there are a number of other benefits to sleeping well at night.
Another study published in The Lancet says that diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression and cancer are all linked to sleep disorders.
Also read: Sleepless nights? Soak your feet in warm water and sleep like a baby
How long does it take for the body to recover after a sleepless night?
Sleeping more is the only way to help your body recover from a sleepless night. However, it will take days for the body to catch up on the missed sleep. “It is not okay to be sleep deprived, even for 24 hours,” warns Dr. Rajamanya.
Select topics you are interested in and let us customize your feed.
She says sleep deprivation can affect your daily life. “Not enough sleep can lead to lack of concentration, irritability, drowsiness and reduced productivity. The resulting drowsiness can hinder coordination and reaction time, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. In addition, reduced productivity and performance at work or school can compound the negative effects of sleep deprivation,” she adds.
When do sleepless nights become a problem?
A study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine states that going more than 17-19 hours without sleep has the same effect on the body as a blood alcohol content of 0.05%.
“Not enough sleep is a concern when sleepless nights begin to affect our ability to function normally. They can hinder our thought process and concentration and interfere with tasks such as driving and heavy lifting, which can be dangerous. They also have a significant impact on our mood,” says Dr. Rajamanya.
6 tips to get through the day after a sleepless night
If you’ve had an unavoidable sleepless night, try these practical tips to get through the next day.
1. Stay well hydrated
A study published in Sleep states that if you are tired the day after a sleepless night, you should drink extra water. According to the study, people who slept six hours at night had more concentrated urine and were dehydrated than those who slept eight hours. Eating healthy also helps you sleep better.
2. Reduce strenuous work
While opinions are divided on whether or not you should work after a sleepless night, this study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, suggests that less than eight hours of sleep can increase your risk of injury by 1.7 times.
3. Avoid activities such as driving
A sleepless night is followed by a day when you are less alert. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records that 6,000 car accidents occur in the US each year due to sleep deprivation.
4. Avoid caffeinated drinks
Consuming too much caffeine can also cause you to have trouble sleeping the next night! A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime can significantly affect your sleep.
5. Try taking a power nap
A power nap is a sleep time of 10-15 minutes. A study published as part of Brain Research says that naps not only keep you from feeling sleepy, but it also helps improve your cognitive performance.
6. Avoid making important decisions
Performing activities that require concentration when you’re sleep-deprived will be especially difficult, says Dr. Rajamanya, and should be avoided.