What If You Didn't Sleep For A Week? ft. TheOdd1sOut
Stay Alert During "Odd" Hours of the Day
Before Your Shift
Make your room bright as soon as you wake up.This will help energize you, since it helps stop your body's production of melatonin, which is triggered by darkness and suppressed by light, says Michael Breus, PhD, author ofThe Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan. Turn on as many lights as you can ASAP. Some alarm clocks now come with a timed light to simulate the sunrise. If you have a lightbox (a light source used to treat seasonal affective disorder), turn it on first thing.
Exercise."Working out—or even just doing 10 minutes of yoga or stretching—when you first wake up can boost your energy for hours to come," says Dr. Breus.
Eat a meal,whether that means joining your family for dinner or having typical breakfast foods. What matters is the nutritional makeup of what you're eating. A few overall guidelines: Focus on eating whole foods (instead of processed), including lean protein like chicken, fish (try salmon, which is high in omega-3 and great for concentration) and eggs, lots of veggies, and whole grains like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and bread. (Skip fast food.) For at least two of your meals, half of the plate should be vegetables, one quarter lean protein and one quarter a whole grain. Make sure you get in at least two fruit servings a day.
• Turkey with lettuce and tomato on 2 slices whole-grain bread with 1 Tbsp canola-oil–based mayonnaise
• 2 Tbsp peanut butter and 1 Tbsp jelly on 2 slices whole-grain bread with 1 medium apple
• 2-egg omelet with 2 slices lowfat cheese and your choice of veggies, plus 2 slices whole-grain toast.
Drink some caffeine.Research has found that for shift workers, caffeine actually works better than naps at boosting performance. And if you add skim or lowfat milk to your coffee or tea, you'll also be getting some protein, which helps sustain your energy. But because caffeine can stay in your system for up to six hours, time your last cup so there's a bit of a gap before you go to sleep. Experts also recommend having no more than 200 mg to 300 mg of caffeine a day. That adds up to between two and four cups, depending on coffee brand and cup size—which can be deceptive. A single Starbucks grande (16 oz) coffee, for instance, has 330 mg.
During Your Shift
Get as much light as possible,especially before 4 or 5 a.m. Your goal here is to reset your circadian clock later. "Fluorescent lights are effective, but your best bet is a lightbox that's made to treat seasonal affective disorder," says Dr. Eastman. Keep one or two (the bigger, the better) near your computer or workstation (they're available at Target.com and Amazon.com for about ). Turn off the lightbox by 4 or 5 a.m.; after that time the light might work against you, making your sleepiest time earlier in your shift rather than later when you're at home trying to go to sleep.
Stretch.As little as 10 minutes of activity, such as walking or doing some stretches at your desk or workstation, can get your heart rate and blood flow going. Exercise can also help combat stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Try to get at least 10 minutes every hour, even if it's just taking a longer route to the bathroom to squeeze in some brisk walking.
Have a high-protein, high-fiber meal.This gives you a steady stream of energy. Good options include a salad made of quinoa (a grain that's high in protein), chopped veggies and beans, or yogurt mixed with whole-grain cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber or lowfat granola and raisins. In general, you should eat every four hours to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable.
Snack on nuts.When you don't get quality sleep, your body needs energy and craves carbs, which can pack on the pounds. Instead, grab a handful of nuts. "They've got healthy fats, fiber and protein, which help you feel full quickly," explains Stephanie Middleberg, RD, a nutritionist based in New York City. About an ounce (enough to fill the center of your palm) should do the trick. If you have a sweet tooth, try a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread, or a fruit-and-nut bar (such as one from Larabar, KIND or Kashi TLC).
Hydrate.It's easy to confuse thirst with hunger. Water's best, but if you need a little sweetness, add just a splash of 100% fruit juice to a bottle of water.
Draw the blinds(if possible, and especially if you're near a window) during your last two to three hours of work. This creates a psychological signal for your body to start winding down.
When Your Shift Ends
Have a light meal.Do this ASAP to avoid eating right before you go to sleep, when your system should be winding down. (Ideally, you should eat two hours before turning in.) If you're digesting food, it'll be harder to fall asleep.
Avoid morning light.Experts agree that putting on sunglasses before you walk out the door is the way to go, but be sure you're taking safety into account. Standard glasses are fine if you're getting a ride or taking public transportation, but if you're driving yourself, choose "blue blocker" lenses (such as those from Uvex, Oakley and Alta Vision; – for the higher-end ones). They enhance contrast, so you'll see better behind the wheel.
Go to sleep as soon as you can.This will help ensure that you get the sleep you need. Make your bedroom as dark as possible, wear an eye mask and keep the thermostat low (your body sleeps best in cool temperatures).
If you're really struggling to fall asleep, ask your doctor about taking a melatonin supplement. Even though it's available without a prescription, some people wake up very groggy from it, and taking too much can cause serious side effects such as nightmares, so be sure to check in with your physician before you try it.
Video: How To Survive A Day On No Sleep
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