You’re tossing and turning in bed while watching the clock turn from 4:30 AM to 5:15 AM to 5:45 AM. Maybe you drift off for a little while or maybe your frustration grows as you see the sun come up and peek through your curtains. Feeling groggy and tired, you drag yourself out of bed and to bravely face the day knowing you had a really bad night’s sleep.
We’ve all been there. It’s not a nice feeling. But, the reality is: we will all experience this type of morning at some point in our lives, unfortunately.
This kind of exhaustion is no fun at all. It makes your mind cloudy, your body shaky and your emotions temperamental. You are not yourself in this fatigued state.
So, what do you do?
We consulted Dr David Klein, a specialist in sleep medicine, for some expert advice on recovering from a bad night’s sleep.
He first asks us to consider what caused this outcome because, really, the best solution to this problem is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
In his field, poor sleep is examined along three major axes on the biopsychosocial model of health. This model is defined as a broad view that attributes disease outcome to the intricate, variable interaction of biological factors (genetic, biochemical, etc), psychological factors (mood, personality, behaviour, etc.), and social factors (cultural, familial, socioeconomic, etc.).
As it applies to sleep, this means identifying these factors and combating each issue individually before they have the opportunity to cause a bad night’s sleep.
Dr Klein explains which factors to look out for by category, “Biological factors that impact on sleep include sleep disorders like sleep apnea and other medical issues that can impact on sleep (pain/arthritis, depression, etc.) Psychological factors are the obvious (stress, anticipatory anxiety, etc.) and social factors (late night out with alcohol etc., a shift worker who starts work at 4 am, gym addict who does the 5 am spin class, etc.).”
Also, see our spring sleep tips for advice on how to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep this season.
When that night comes, keep Dr Klein’s expert suggestions in mind:
For many "strategic napping" is a good solution. This means naps appropriately timed in terms of when you take them in the day (circadian nadir usually around 4 PM) and duration of around 30 minutes. Some patients tell me that "when I nap I feel worse." This sensation is often related to sleep inertia which can be managed.
Another underused technique is light therapy. In the summer natural sunlight and in the winter a full spectrum light box for one hour in the morning can help promote daytime alertness, improve mood, and help regulate sleep schedules.
When you have had a rough sleep, it’s important to correct this issue as soon as possible. “When we are sleep deprived we accumulate ‘sleep debt’ and, like all debt, our body needs to be paid back,” Dr Klein explains.
As sleep has such a profound impact on our health, happiness and wellbeing, we suggest making it a priority to recover fully and settle your sleep debt as soon as possible.
For more expert sleep advice from Dr. Klein, check out his in-depth interview.
ABOUT DR KLEIN
Dr. David Klein MD FRCP(C) ABIM (sleep medicine) is a senior sleep medicine physician at MedSleep Canada, and is board certified in sleep medicine as well as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto. He has been practicing sleep medicine since 2006 and sees over 1000 sleep disorder patients per year with a wide variety of problems in locations across Ontario and Alberta. He is also an author of the Ontario guidelines for sleep medicine practice, a noted researcher and presenter on the treatment of different sleep disorders and a leader in the training and assessment of sleep physicians and other personnel across the country.
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