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Fatigue, weakened immunity and a poor libido are some of the unwanted effects of lack of sleep or irregular sleeping habits. Fortunately, you can fix the side effects of your sleep deficit without turning into Rip van Winkle. Here's how to rack up sleep credits while you're awake.
Weak Immunity Fix: Vitamin E Sleep Credit: 10 minutes
“When you lack sleep, your immune system is hit,” says Dr Chris Alford, a University of West England sleep scientist. Feed your system with selenium and vitamin E supplements at the start of every day. Their antioxidant properties boost your immune system. Try GNC Natural E with Selenium, which gives 400iu of vitamin E and 100mcg of selenium ($45.95 for 90 softgels, #B1-04A The Centrepoint, Tel: 6834-0616).
Fatigue Fix: Kelp Sleep Credit: 10 minutes
Sleep deprivation damages your thyroid, leading to fatigue. “This means you struggle to problem-solve,” says Dr John Shneerson, president of the British Sleep Society. This may begin to affect you even before lunchtime and cause irritability. Take 30mg of kelp to combat this. Try Good ’n Natural Sea Kelp ($16.90 for 250 tablets, Holland & Barrett, #B1-61 City Link Mall, Tel: 6884-4934).
Hunger Fix: Steak Sleep Credit: 20 minutes
“The lack of sleep causes overproduction of two hunger hormones: leptin and ghrelin,” says Dr Shneerson. To dampen the effects of these ravenous hormones, grab a high-protein lunch. This helps to stop hunger and keep you sharp in the afternoon. Forget chicken. Instead, grab a roast beef sandwich or steak. Red meat is denser in protein and will give the maximum protein punch.
“You’ll see a natural dip in alertness between 2pm and 4pm,” Dr Shneerson says. This is made worse by the fact that your sleep-deprived body is more insulin-resistant. Resist the urge to eat high-sugar snacks. Grab a bag of raw almonds or cashews instead. This combats the slump by releasing energy slowly, without spiking insulin levels.
Slow Muscle Recovery Fix: FIsh Sleep Credit: 10 minutes
“Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released during sleep, but a fragmented night suppresses it, leading to repair problems,” says Dr Alford. This especially affects men who have had intense physical training the day before, in the form of fatigue. Start eating cod, beans or lentils – all are good sources of lysine, an amino acid known to promote HGH and help build muscle.
Poor Sex Drive Fix: Avocado Sleep Credit: 10 minutes
“In the mid-term, sex drive becomes a casualty of sleep debt,” warns Dr Alford. “Without proper sleep, your hormone cycle is broken.” When you notice a decrease in your libido, it can easily mean that you’re not well-rested. Eat an avocado before bed. It has vitamin B6, which increases male hormone production – so you’ll miss out on sleep for the right reasons.