At one time or another, you’ll probably miss a night’s sleep, whether you’re caring for a sick child or facing tight deadlines at work. Although it would be nice to sleep in the next day, sometimes you have to keep on going. Here are steps you can use to function better after a hard night.
Steps to Take Before You Miss a Night’s Sleep
1. Store up sleep in advance. Many studies confirm that you can bank some sleep. Subjects who got extra slumber in the weeks before being deprived of sleep performed better and recovered faster. Experiment until you find the right formula for you.
2. Arrange for alternative transportation. Driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as operating a vehicle when you’re intoxicated. Ask a friend for a ride to the office or plan to call a cab.
3. Rearrange your workload. Research also shows that sleep deprivation affects some abilities more than others. You’re better off scheduling creative work and public speaking engagements for another time.
Steps to Take After You Miss a Night’s Sleep
1. Nap a little. Naturally, sleep is the best antidote for sleep deprivation. Napping for 5 to 20 minutes will help restore your energy. Even just shutting your eyes briefly can help.
2. Go easy on the caffeine. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee or its equivalent and drink it early in the day. Otherwise, it could backfire and keep you up the next night.
3. Stay hydrated. Dehydration causes fatigue. Drink plenty of water and snack on vegetables and fruit. Avoid alcoholic beverages.
4. Engage in exercise. Physical activity is one of the healthiest and most effective ways to revive your energy levels quickly. Go for a brisk walk or do a few sets of leg lifts.
5. Strike up a conversation. Chatting with people around you can also perk you up temporarily. Attentive listening will help to focus your mind even if you’re too sleepy to contribute anything profound.
6. Turn up the lights. Our brains naturally wake up when exposed to light. Early morning sunlight is especially powerful so spend a little time outdoors. Later, you can sit near a bright lamp.
7. Alternate between tasks. Switching back and forth between monotonous tasks makes it easier to stay awake. Try doing your housework and reading your emails in brief intervals.
8. Adjust your thermostat. Comfort levels vary from one individual to the next but 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal room temperature for most people. If it’s too hot or too cold, you body responds by getting sleepy.
9. Take deep breath. You’ll soon feel more animated if you deliver more oxygen to your brain Take full breaths from your abdomen rather than from your chest.
10. Avoid getting sick. Your immune system needs adequate sleep to stay strong. If your defenses are down temporarily, be more diligent about protective measures like frequent hand washing.
11. Monitor your moods. You may be more prone to irritability when you’re struggling to stay awake. Buy yourself flowers or listen to soothing music. Put off difficult conversations until you’re back in shape.
12. Give yourself time to recover. Sleep is vital for healing and regenerating your body and mind. Most people need more than one night to recover from interrupted sleep. Get back on schedule as quickly as possible and realize that it may take a week or more to feel fully restored.
Protect your mental and physical health by making a commitment to getting the sleep you need. By staying well rested most of the time, you’ll be better prepared to recover from the occasional sleepless night and still manage your daily activities.