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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Counteracting Sleep Deprivation

English: A picture of white pillows.English: A picture of white pillows. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Original Article

We all know why I’m dealing with a bit of sleep deprivation. (Baby is doing really great, by the way.) In  an emergency situation, there are all sorts of things that could cause some sleepless nights.  Stress could cause insomnia, perhaps guard duty has you out of your sleep sack for a few hours every night. The point is, you have to keep going, here are some tricks to aid you in fighting the sleepy-fog.

Your brain is working less efficiently – Research shows that our brain’s ability to function quickly deteriorates when we are sleep deprived. Make sure you give yourself longer to do tasks that require thought. You’re more likely to make mistakes remembering measurements, complicated orders, solving problems or recalling something previously memorized.

Your reaction time is longer – Go slower if you’re driving or riding a bike, as you’ll be slower reacting to obstacles.  Don’t go hand-to-hand with someone well rested if you can avoid it.

Eat more calories – I have always heard this in jobs where crazy-long shifts can happen, when you can’t give your body restorative hours of sleep, give it as many calories as you can.  Now, this is within reason of course, and works best if the calories are healthy and energy dense.  A large bag of potato chips isn’t going to replace an hour of sleep, but an extra half portion of whole wheat pasta can make a big difference.

Watch for mood swings – Sleep deprived people feel exhausted and fatigued, which affects their moods, causing depression, stress and anger. Take steps to minimize stress and anger, through communication strategies and meditation. Try not to make important decisions during your time of sleep deprivation.

Drink more water – Expelling waste is another function that gets taken care of during sleep. If you can keep hydrated, you can help your body  deal with the excess toxins that might be present because of your sleepy state.

Using Caffeine – Use caffeine in moderation if you can. A little bit will help counteract the drowsiness of sleep deprivation. But, too much used too often will see a decrease in performance as your body becomes used to the level. It can also cause jitters or shakes, which could be detrimental to your shooting accuracy.

Nap if you can – A 20 minute nap will do some good. You’ll feel more refreshed and alert.  Sleep when you can, but don’t use “downers” to get there, you’ll be setting yourself up for trouble.

May all your nights be restful, but if they’re not, at least you should know how to deal with it.

- Calamity Jane
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