Surviving on no sleep is probably the toughest thing to do. Long working hours and deadly deadlines can often lead us to force ourselves to be awake during the night, leading to a sleepless night, and an exhausting day after that. How to survive on no sleep is a question that remains unanswered as we often don’t stop to imagine the amount of harm it can cause us.
How many hours of sleep are needed a day?
Anything between six to seven hours of sleep would be enough for you to be well-rested and re-energised, says Internal Medicine specialist Dr Suchismitha Rajamanya.
“Adequate sleep is required for the body to support various vital functions and to promote optimal physical and mental performance. During this time, the body undergoes essential restorative processes, such as tissue repair, and muscle growth. Additionally, sufficient sleep plays a vital role in regulating hormonal balance, immune function, and metabolism,” she says.
According to the 2023 Sleep in America poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, around 65% of adults, who are not satisfied with their sleep patterns are going through mild or even severe depression. So, while we have always heard that a good night’s sleep is what gets you through the next day, there are a range of other benefits of sleeping well at night too.
Another study published in The Lancet says diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and cancer, are all linked to sleep disorders.
Also read: Having sleepless nights? Dip 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 make up the sleep it has missed. “It is not okay to be sleep-deprived, even for a matter of 24 hours,” warns Dr Rajamanya.
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She says sleep deprivation can affect your day-today life. “Not enough sleep can lead to lack of concentration, irritability, drowsiness, and decreased productivity. The resulting drowsiness can impair coordination and reaction time, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. Moreover, decreased productivity and performance at work or school can further compound the negative effects of sleep deprivation,” she adds.
When do sleepless nights become a concern?
A study published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine states that over 17-19 hours of no sleep affects the body in the same way as having a 0.05% blood alcohol content does.
“Not enough sleep is concerning when sleepless nights start affecting our ability to function normally. They can impair 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 following a sleepless night
If you have gone through an unavoidable sleepless night, then 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, then you must drink extra water. According to the research, people who slept for six hours at night had more concentrated urine and were dehydrated, than those who slept for eight hours. Eating healthy also helps with sleeping better.
2. Reduce strenuous work
While there are mixed views on whether you should work our or not after a sleepless night, this study, published in Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, points out that less than eight hours of sleep can increase the chances of injury by 1.7 times.
3. Avoid activities such as driving
A sleepless night will be followed by a day where you are less alert. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records that, in the US, 6000 car crashes per year happen due to sleep deprivation.
4. Abstain from caffeinated drinks
Consuming too much caffeine can also result in you having sleep troubles the following night! A study, published in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, states that consumption of caffeine six hours before bedtime can affect your sleep substantially.
5. Try to take a power nap
A power nap is a 10-15 minutes of sleep time. A study, published in progress of Brain Research, says that not only do naps help you not feel sleepy, but it also helps improve your cognitive performance.
6. Avoid making any important decisions
Doing any activity that requires concentration, if you are sleep deprived is going to be extra hard, says Dr Rajamanya, and these should be avoided.