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Why Do You Need More Sleep When Running Deadlines?

We often hear about the harmful effects of insomnia, but do you know how sleep helps, especially when we're tired of running deadlines?

Do you ever find yourself in these situations?

“I’m sleep deprived when I have to run deadlines.” “I forgot to drink, forgot to eat, forgot to brush my hair. ” Whether you are a student or a working person, you can understand this. 

Let me guess: tomorrow morning you will drink coffee and energy drinks to get ready to stay up at night. And many evenings like that continued.

Actually, if you get sleepy while running a deadline, just get some sleep. It may sound counter-intuitive, but when you feel exhausted and can't think anymore, sleep is the most effective solution. And here are the reasons.

1. Sleep helps to maintain the brain

The brain accounts for only 2% of body mass but uses up 20% of energy to function effectively. When nerve cells consume energy, it releases excess proteins called Amyloid-beta that prevent the brain from working properly. They are substances that increase the lining of the brain causing Alzheimer's disease and neurological crisis. At this time, cerebrospinal fluid plays a role in washing away harmful waste that accumulates in brain cells. In particular, they increase more than 10 times when we sleep. Without this process every night, pollutants would build up, affecting memory, alertness and long-term brain health.

2. Sleep helps remove the knots in our thinking

In the book "A Mind for Numbers", Dr. Barbara Oakley points out that daily thinking activities take place because the brain switches between two modes:

Focused thinking mode: Helps us remember and analyze a problem. In this mode, we use existing knowledge and templates to approach and connect problems, such as solving math problems with formulas, practicing English grammar, or editing articles. When you focus on something, this mode "comes on".

Diffused thinking mode: Helps us see new aspects of a problem and expand the "panorama". Scatter mode will be activated when you relax your attention and let the mind wander. It allows different areas of the brain to connect data, delve into problems and send you back a new, smoother approach.

For example, the mode of dispersion is when you sit down and write one uninterrupted thought in your mind, without thinking wrong, without barriers. Then, the brain turns to focus mode to check spelling, semantics, analyze the thesis and persuade. 

So what do the two modes have to do with sleep?

According to Dr. Barbara Oakley, falling asleep only ceases conscious thought. Instead, the brain conducts unconsciously dispersed thinking. The brain repeats the knots of the problem, new nerve cells form, regions of the brain interact with each other, which connects discrete information and data that develop into blocks. This is also the conclusion from a study of the University of California in Berkeley (USA) done in 2007.

As a result, sleep creates magical moments, helping people connect ideas and form creative results. Many celebrities in the fields also shared testimonies for this. For example:

The Beatles’ Paul McCartney said that he woke up with the piece "Yesterday" in his mind. Russian chemist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev had an "inspirational" dream about putting chemical elements in one table. The French mathematician René Descartes dreamed three dreams, suggesting he apply arithmetic to geometry. And the Cartesian analytic geometry theory was born. But to achieve it, you have to be really focused while awake, immersed in the previous problem. That way, when you sleep, the distributed mode can trigger your brain to think about suggestions and answers to problems in a more free, creative and efficient way. In addition, it also helps you remove the knots of thinking, connect ideas and produce creative results.

Tips for a balance between "running deadlines" and resting

Although sleep is so beneficial, life is not always as beautiful as a dream. Sometimes, because of some circumstances in life, we cannot take a nap for even a few minutes.

Take advantage of caffeine: While you may not be able to reach the level of awareness you get when getting enough sleep, the caffeine-intake method a few hours away can also help reduce thinking problems caused by lack of sleep. But you need to know your "limit" to avoid loss or counter-production.                                       

Turn on the lights: To deceive your body and aid you in alertness.

Drink enough water: Dehydration is the cause of fatigue and headache. In addition, getting up to go to the bathroom will help you get a little movement of your body, preventing you from falling asleep and acquiring back pain.

Eat healthy and well-balanced meals: When you are sleepy, you can easily mistakenly think you are hungry and go for a snack. But they will make you more sleepy, and even affect digestion and metabolism. Instead, eat healthy, balanced, nutritious meals.

Light (non-intensive) exercise: Stand up, stretch or do gentle movements to stretch muscles and blood circulation.

The secret to recovering from sleep deprived nights

Take the initiative to stay safe: If you need to go to school or work after a night of staying up all night, try not to overwork yourself.                                                                                               

Avoid taking a long afternoon sleep: No matter how tempting it is and you find yourself deserving of a break after one (or more) night's awake, just take a nap to regain your strength. Make-up sleep until the afternoon will make you lose sleep at night, which will lead to a long time to reverse the circadian clock.

Set a Time Routine: In order not to "deviate from the time zone" too much and for too long, make sure to always get enough sleep afterwards.

Most importantly, you should pay attention to how you organize your time and manage your work. Do not push too hard, but share with colleagues, teammates, or split the workload, avoid working continuously. Refer to 5 time management tips to increase productivity, and sometimes allow yourself to be "bored" to create opportunities for new ideas.

Jeanne double major in Health Studies and Biology, and minor in Global Health. She enjoys doing photography, stargazing, hiking, snowboarding, cooking, eating and making memes during her free time. Her goal is to become a doctor without border focusing on women health, reproductive health and community health because she is passionate in serving the underrepresented communities around the world and advocating for their needs by creating effective intervention and provide affordable health services.
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