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Best worst choice: making up for lost sleep

The gist: 

Getting fewer than the recommended seven hours per night can leave you fatigued and moody.

Expert insight: 

Return to your regular sleep-wake schedule as soon as possible. “Ideally, you’d minimize variance to one hour on either end,” says Samantha Rota, Tier X coach and the regional lead for sleep coaching curriculum at Highland Park in Dallas.

One way to help you do that: exercise. Since your body won’t be able to function at top performance when you’re under-slept, choose lower-intensity work like walking, yoga, or bodyweight moves.

If you need to take a midday nap, make it 20 or 90 minutes long. “Up until twenty minutes, you’re still in the light sleep phase, so it’s easier to wake up without feeling groggy,” Rota says. “At ninety minutes, you’ve completed a full cycle, which has the same benefit.” 

Finally, keep mealtimes consistent to reduce fatigue-fueled cravings, Rota adds. 

The bottom line:

Follow the one-hour variance rule as much as possible. Dramatic differences (say, waking up at noon when you’d normally rise at 7 a.m.) will further disrupt your circadian rhythm, leading to more lost sleep, Rota says.