Did you know, a consistent lack of sleep can make your decision-making similar to that if you were drunk? Whether you need to perform for exams, your job, be alert for lectures or nail those meetings, we’ve got you covered here at Healthwords with tips on how to perform at your best. Read on to find out why you need at least 7 hours to perform your best and how to stay awake and alert when you need to.
When you sleep, your body goes through 5 different sleep stages in approximately 90-minute cycles. It is around 5-6 of these cycles that make up a good night’s sleep and allow you to feel refreshed. These stages include deep sleep and rapid eye movement sleep (the stage of sleep when you dream). If you wake up in the middle of a 90 minute cycle you can feel quite groggy compared to waking up at the end of a cycle.
The first few 90 minute cycles of sleep are where your body begins repairing as you spend more time in deep sleep. The latter cycles are mind repairing, when you spend more time in rapid eye movement sleep. The mind repairing cycles help with alertness, memory, emotional regulation, and all-around performance. This is why it's important to get a minimum of 5 cycles of continuous sleep to get in those mind-repairing cycles. This works out at around 7 and a half hours as a minimum with 9 hours being even better.
Our advice about how to get to sleep focus on sleep hygiene and these key tips really help:.
Despite our best efforts, it is sometimes necessary to try to stay awake for longer periods of time than is necessarily healthy. This could be due to working night shifts or that last-minute cram for exams. We would always recommend trying to plan in advance to avoid needing to stay awake more than 15 hours in one go. But, if it is unavoidable, then try some of the following tips.
Natural ways of staying awake include working under bright lights, eating small healthy snacks regularly and by getting up and moving or splashing your face with cold water. Caffeine can also help you stay awake or improve alertness but be careful, as too much caffeine can actually end up hindering your ability to concentrate. Up to 4 cups of coffee or around 600mg of caffeine is the maximum recommended for a positive effect and it is safest to split this across a number of hours. This can be in the form of coffee, caffeine gum, or caffeine tablets. (Be careful with energy drinks as these quite often contain a lot more caffeine than this.)
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