Admit it: At least once in the past six months, you've blamed your sleep-deprived state for all sorts of workaday inefficiencies and gaffes.
Dr. Curt Tribble, director of the surgical-residency program at the University of Virginia, doesn't buy it. His doctors commonly work 12- to 36-hour shifts - proving that people can get by on less than a full night's sleep. He prescribes five ways to avoid chronic sleepiness:
Take a catnap. The best recharger is 10 to 15 minutes of horizontal rest. It's hard to wake up from anything longer.
Put in the same hours each night. Six hours of sleep is sufficient. Be consistent: Don't mess up your biological clock by sleep-bingeing on weekends.
Sleep strategically. When you get behind in your sleep, hit the sack early one night. Then return to your routine.
Don't pop that pill. Lay off pharmaceutical sleeping aids. If you must, try tryptophan, a natural dozing agent.
Snack on protein. High-protein foods like tuna fish raise your level of tyrosine, a brain amino acid. "The purer the protein, the better the energy boost,'' says Tribble.
Coordinates: Dr. Curt Tribble, firstname.lastname@example.org
A version of this article appeared in the August 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.