Nine Steps to Surviving Your Day After Losing a Good Night’s Sleep
The Horror...it's Morning Already!
Well, it’s happened again. Your alarm is sounding, your eyes are bloodshot, your brain is fighting a metaphorical fog, and you’ve got to get up and function all day after getting no sleep last night. Going about your day—whether you have to be at work, care for your kids, run errands, or all of the above—after getting no sleep is both physically and emotionally painful. It’s happened to all of us at some point, and it’s a near guarantee that your upcoming day is about to unfold very painfully. It matters not if you have work in an hour, or if you’re about to travel all day to start a vacation, or if you’re home with a young child… you can bet your senses will be slower, your patience will be thinner, and your tolerance for life’s unexpected daily “joys” will present a monumental challenge until you fall back in bed tonight to try again to sleep. Below are nine things that can help.
Don’t dwell on why you got no sleep last night because it will only make you resent who or whatever is the source of your pain. A snoring spouse, a double shift, a crying baby, or even more annoyingly common - your mind simply wouldn’t power down for the night…it doesn’t matter. You’re now in crisis mode because you don’t have the option of pulling the covers over your head and trying to snag some restful sleep…your time is up. Don’t panic about how you’re going to survive this day. Instead, take things one step at a time. Don’t just lay there frustrated, start by sitting up and canceling your alarm. Important: don’t use the snooze button feature or else you’ll just feel exactly as you do now in 9 minutes time and you’ll fall further behind on your schedule.
How do you roll?
How do you prefer to tackle your day after little to no sleep?
Take things as slow as your timeframe allows. If you have to clock in five minutes from now, sorry friend, but move it and try to make it on time, safely. It’s harder to suffer uninterrupted when your manager is justifiably frustrated at you for being late so run, run! If possible, phone ahead to tell your boss you’re running late. I don’t suggest lying that your alarm didn’t go off…but it’s your call. Otherwise, count your blessings that you don’t have to hustle and get out of bed to find your way to the kitchen.
Quick Fuel for the Day.
- Piece of fruit and some trail mix
- Glass of milk and a granola bar
- 1 egg (microwaved 60 sec.) on a piece of whole grain toast
Don’t skip breakfast. No matter what time of day you need to be “up and at ‘em,” you need fuel if this time awake is going to go in the right direction. No time for a full meal? Grab some protein (a banana with some peanut butter is fast) and perhaps consider brewing some coffee, tea, or even taking along a tall glass of skim milk. When all else fails, hit a gas station or fast food drive-thru for some sustenance. Whether you eat at home or on the go, don’t wolf it down. Your entire system is extra sensitive on no sleep. Sip your hot beverage in the car (this also avoids burning your tongue in a rush). Nibble your granola bar while you dress. Don’t upset your stomach further by shocking it awake. Note: if the idea of eating or drinking makes you queasy, go for a tall glass of tap water (70%) and add in some refrigerated fruit juice (30%) to re-hydrate fast while making your body more receptive to fluids. Then lean toward a carbohydrate like toast or dry cereal to settle your stomach (eggs are not your friend today).
Keep it moving. Don’t sit too long eating your breakfast. It’s possible you could fall asleep at the table or simply lose all motivation to continue getting ready for the day. Put on some music to help you realize you can and will get through today. Music can ignite your determination to persevere just like when you work out. If time allows, step in the shower to wake up your senses. Lather with an uplifting fragranced body wash or face scrub. It can improve your mood and your energy level. Check your local news as you pack for the day. It’s frustrating enough you have to be awake today…don’t incur further frustration being completely unaware of the impending downpour outside.
Dress to impress. Remember going to class in your PJs or sweats? Odds are you didn’t have a very productive day back then and it holds true today. Select an outfit that’s a little nicer, but still comfortable. It will help keep you focused, cheer you up when you pass a mirror (if you don’t feel great, at least you look sharp), and remind you that you can handle today no matter what. Plus if someone compliments your clothes, it’ll make you feel good. Consider comfortable shoes today (at least for your commute) so you don’t have to fight against sore feet…you have enough to fight today. If, by chance, you have a new shirt or slacks you’ve been saving, wear them today to rejuvenate your look.
Don’t skimp on yourself today. Thanks to the nature of your situation, odds are you didn’t oversleep and therefore have plenty of time to get yourself ready. Be sure to style or at least brush your hair. Apply your make-up. If you’re too tired, at least put some concealer under those eyes and some blush on your cheeks. Consider one of those anti-puff eye rollers available at most pharmacies in the Health & Beauty section. It’s a great façade when, on the inside, you feel like you’ve been “through the wringer.” Brush your teeth and use minty mouth wash…it helps waken your senses. Bring some mouth wash along for after you finish your coffee or tea. Take your multi-vitamin…you’re gonna need it today. Consider some orange juice with your lunch today to keep your immunity up. Remember there’s a good reason you’re in pain. Pamper yourself as much as you can by keeping your routine in check and treating yourself with care.
Go easy on yourself. If you have a lot to carry to your car this morning, make more than one trip. You’ll be quick to anger if you drop that much needed travel mug or today’s presentation file. Use a messenger bag or briefcase if you need more help with your things than usual. Take a quick look around the house before you leave to be sure you have the items you can’t succeed today without. If you’re on the highway without a lunch, you can get a quick sandwich somewhere. But if you’ve left your company laptop on the counter, you’ll have to double back. Relax in the car; perhaps turn on the radio. Celebrate that you’re on your way and focus on making the most of the time you have, whatever’s on your agenda. If you do realize, when you get where you’re going, that you forgot something at home, don’t beat yourself up. See if you can bring it another day, or stay calm as you go back to retrieve it…we all make mistakes.
Be kind to others. Remember, whoever you interact with today is probably not to blame for you losing sleep last night. So be extra polite…as you’re commuting to your destinations, as you answer your phone, as you get through your meetings, etc. It’s too easy to be grumpy to all you encounter these next 8-12 hours. Just because you’re tired doesn’t give you justification to be a jerk. Don’t project your pain onto others. Stay out of the way or behind the scenes when you can’t be congenial, as is understandable when you’re sleep deprived. Think out what you’re about to say before you utter it aloud to be sure it’s not snippy or flat out rude. You can also confide in others ahead of time, “Hey, I apologize, but I’m a little off today from lack of sleep…” Again, we’ve all been there…those around you will understand and keep it in mind.
Celebrate all victories! Every step of the way today, celebrate whatever you accomplish (but not with a nap; you may not wake up). You did get out of bed; make your coffee into a mocha. You are dressed and fed; take an extra minute in the shower to soak under the hot water. You made it to work/school on time; park closer to the door for added convenience. You didn't honk at that driver who cut you off; take a stroll on your lunch break. You will get yourself through your day and celebrate tonight with a hot date with your pillow and blankets. Odds are you’ll have no trouble falling asleep tonight.