We all lose sleep for all sorts of reasons. Some are rational, while others aren’t.
Regardless of the why, you’re still faced with the same result: your alarm is blaring, your head’s pounding, and the one thing you want to do – get some sleep – will have to wait an entire day.
We empathize – the morning after a sleepless night is tough.
Luckily, there are some tricks that can help you recuperate quickly from your best zombie impression. Check out expert advice below on how to power through your day, even with a deficiency in Zs.
Don’t (Hit the) Snooze (Button)
You’d assume the answer to a lack of sleep is by, well, trying to sleep more, like sleeping in later.
But that’s actually the worst thing you can do for your sleep health, says Sonia Ancoli-Israel, PhD, director of education at the UCSD Sleep Medicine Center: “The truth is, after one bad night of sleep you should change very little in your routine. You should still get up at the same time you do every other morning, even if it’s the weekend.”
A consistent wake-up time is the foundation of the body’s circadian rhythms, or the patterns in your physiological processes that affects so many things – your energy, immunities, metabolism, and even creativity.
Sleeping in throws that body clock off for the entire day. So when it’s bedtime, your body may not recognize it and you may not feel tired, setting yourself up for another restless night.
Plus, sleeping in won’t make you feel better in the moment either; it can actually leave you in more of a daze than getting up grudgingly the first time.
“If you can eat breakfast outside that’s a good start,” says Ancoli-Israel. “And if you have time to go for a walk, that’s a great idea,” she adds, “just don’t wear sunglasses.”
Getting some fresh air exposes you to natural light, which encourages your body clock to impede the production of melatonin, or the hormone that makes us drowsy. In turn, you should become more alert.
Along with suppressing melatonin, sunlight simultaneously encourages the release of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which may make your groggy mornings a bit brighter.
Related: 5 Ways You Can Sleep ‘Smarter’
Control the caffeine
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your morning brew – but once lunchtime comes around, cut the caffeine out.
“While coffee may help initially, the effects will not last,” says Michael Breus, PhD, a sleep specialist in Los Angeles and author of The Power of When. “So have some to get you going, but don’t binge for the whole day.”
And of course, it goes without saying that caffeine can make it harder to catch some Zs: a 2013 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that a dose of caffeine consumed even six hours before bedtime, could keep a person up.
Neutralize the ‘3 p.m. slump’
Everyone gets the notorious, ‘3pm slump’ as energy levels dip in the afternoon.
The solution? Get moving.
A study published in April in the journal Physiology and Behavior suggests just 10 minutes of stair-walking can improve energy levels – more so than a can of soda or other caffeinated beverage.
Try visiting the people on the main floor of your office building. Or if they’re unfriendly, get your blood flowing with a brisk walk around the block.
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