I've recently been finding that I struggle much more with intellectual work (math, hard programming, writing, etc.) when I sleep less 6.5-7 hours. While I'm at peace with the fact that I seem to generally require >7 hours a sleep, it's frustrating that even though I set aside enough time for adequate sleep, I'll often wake up after only ~6 hours of sleep and not be able to fall back asleep.
My cognitive ability seems to be impacted by a single night of bad sleep even when I've been sleeping well in the recent past. Concretely, if I've slept 8 hours every night for two weeks, a single night of poor sleep can still result in a ~50% less productive day.
In addition to impacting productivity, acute sleep deprivation also leaves me much less capable of entertaining myself by thinking, so I become much more inclined to seek out distracting forms of entertainment like scrolling through the internet. It also seems to increase my cravings for generally "unhealthy" foods (I've seen references to this in literature, but won't bother linking them since it's not the focus of my question).
Other useful notes about my general sleep habits/history include:
- I'm not sure if I've always been this sensitive to sleep deprivation and just notice it more due to a combination of more introspective and spending more time on certain activities or if something's changed and I've become more sensitive.
- I generally have 1 cup of coffee in the morning around when I wake up. More cups of coffee do not seem to offset sleep deprivation's impact on my cognitive ability, and in fact have at times exacerbated it.
- I've tried napping when it's fit with my schedule and each time ended up lying awake for the 20-40 minutes during which I intended to nap.
I'd love to hear others' strategies for mitigating the impact of acute sleep deprivation on cognitive ability. I've done some preliminary searching for papers, articles, etc., but those that I've found focus on reducing tiredness rather than on returning cognitive ability to baseline. I'm open to trying strategies including but not limited to diet changes, supplements, medication, and habit changes.