It happens. Too much stress, too much thinking, or simply you couldn’t fall asleep. Even if you do everything right, you relax, exercise, and eat right, life happens. Last time I got like 3 hours of sleep, was because I was wide awake and couldn’t fall asleep. I did everything right, stayed on schedule, practiced deep breathing, but I still couldn’t seem to fall asleep. It was frustrating.
The alarm rang, you got no sleep, and now you are searching through the internet to see what to do now. Congrats, you are in the right place! Here are some useful tips that have helped me get by on restless days.
Note: I am not a medical professional, any information shared on this post should not replace advice from a professional. If you haven’t already, consult your doctor to see if you have any sleep disorders, they can impact your ability to sleep.
Beware coffee, try tea instead
Coffee is the first thing in mind when people feel tired or drained, but keep warned, it can make you feel worse afterward. No more than 1-2 cups of coffee should be optimal or you can try tea instead. Green tea and herbal teas not only give you an energy boost, but they also have antioxidants, which help your body fight off inflammation. Get two for the price of one!
Eat well, ditch junk food and sugar
Fuel your body right so you can feel better all day long. Anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and spices, can help you get more energy and recover from the loss of sleep. Additionally, consider eliminating things that will bring you down further, like high glycemic carbohydrates, sugar, and junk food which creates more stress. It’s best to pass on the Big Mac and large fries order and opt for an apple instead.
Exercise, but take it a little lighter if you need to
It is the last thing to think about when you are tired and drained. However, if done correctly, it can help any type of situation you are in, even a lack of sleep. It is like a drug, but cheaper, with no side effects, and without the stress of having to check if insurance covers it! Keep in mind that you may need to take it lighter on yourself. Try to do as much as you did last time, and only push yourself as much as you can handle. If you cant add more reps to your weights or more distance to your run, don’t stress, your body is already overwhelmed. Don’t take it as an excuse to skip a lot, just make sure that today might not be the right day. The important part is to show up and do something, go for a walk at least! Or dance…
Avoid unnecessary stress
Your body is working hard to deal with the lack of sleep, especially if you got less than 6 hours of sleep, so it is a bad idea to stress it even more. Stress can come in many ways, like intense exercise, social obligations, family struggles, school/work pressure, even the food you eat. Don’t freak out about how to avoid all these stressors, it is impossible to do so, but do the best you can. Practicing patience, deep breathing, meditation, interacting with others you love or anything else that relaxes you are all great.
Ask for support
You don’t have to go at it alone! There’s a whole world out there that can help. Use the power of human interaction to your advantage! Let your family and friends know that you are struggling because I am sure they can understand and help you in some way. People cant understand you until you tell them.
If you are looking for a quick energy boost, then humor is the right way to go! Do something fun or make yourself laugh, enjoy your life!
Keep at it
Sleep gives you energy, it helps you grow, but when that energy is lost, it is hard to be your normal self. Eighter, everything triggers you to become the hulk or everything seems impossible. It sucks. All the work that you put in will pay off, do the best you can to continue with your routine. Do the things you planned to do, and know that you won’t be 100% today, and that is ok. Don’t beat yourself about it.
But wait, What about naps? If you really need one, then get one, and make sure to keep it short, around 20-30 minutes or so. I personally am not a nap guy because I have a hard time falling asleep at night when I do take one and it’s hard for me to find a consistent time. That’s just me, you do what works best for you.
How can I recover from the lost sleep?
There really isn’t much left to do, other than making sure that you get back on track tonight. Some suggestions include:
- Turn off electronics, preferably 1 hour before bed, this includes tv, phones, computer, and videogames, and avoid bright lights as much as possible close to bedtime.
- Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every night even on weekends
- Set up proper conditions to sleep, these include setting a cool (generally below 70 degrees), dark, quiet and comfortable environment
- Set a time to relax in the evening before bed. Personally, I like to set aside at least 40-60 minutes to relax, read, and drink some chamomile tea before I hit the sack. Some great things you can do during this time is taking a relaxing bath, stretching, reading, journaling, or anything that helps you snooze off. If reading a boring textbook from school gets you to sleep, then do that, unless it is part of an assignment that you have to turn in.
- Take deep breaths, they help with relaxation and lowering your blood pressure. Start by inhaling to a count of 5 and exhaling to a count of 6. Do it five times and see how you feel.
It is not a safe practice to get less sleep than you need, especially if you are consistently doing so. Sleeping too little has a detrimental effect on performance, but sometimes random sleep patterns are inevitable. Keep moving, stay consistent, and do everything you can to enhance your day. I bet that bed of yours looks comfier than ever!
P.S: If you really want to take your sleep to the next level, consider investing in a sleep monitor. It can help you get a glance into the quality of sleep you get and how you can improve it. How has technology advanced, right? I recently bought a Fitbit inspire HR, which gives me a rough estimate of the hours of sleep I got. Stay cautious that they are no 100% perfect, so don’t screw your energy levels because of what it says. Hope you find some zzz tonight!
P.P.S: If you want to dive deeper into the concept of sleep, then a very good book I would recommend is Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. I read a summary about it and I am looking forward to reading it in the future.
Gunnars, Kris. “10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 17 Jan. 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Foods That Fight Inflammation.” Harvard Health, June 2014, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation.
Marcus, Aubrey. Own the Day, Own Your Life: Optimized Practices for Waking Working Learning Eating Training Playing Sleeping and Sex. Thorsons, 2018.
Sleep Foundation, National. “Sleeping Tips & Tricks.” National Sleep Foundation, 2019, www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips.