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October 25, 2016

How to get through the day after a sleepless night

Wellness Sleep

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Person sleeping on their desk after no sleep fizkes/

It’s inevitable – you’re going to have nights when you toss and turn and don’t get a full night of sleep — and you’ll feel it in the morning. For the average adult (18 and older), a full night’s rest should consist of seven and a half to nine hours of sleep. Perhaps you have a huge presentation at work in the morning that kept you up most of the night. How can you possibly make it through an entire day with little to no sleep?

It’s important to remember that these aren’t long-term solutions; but if you’re particularly groggy today, here’s what to do:

Take a cold shower

Cold water may sound intolerable, but it can help wake you up. You don’t have to suffer through an entire cold shower — 30 seconds of cold water before you get out of the shower will do the trick. It makes you breathe deeper, which helps you take in more oxygen, resulting in higher alertness. It also helps your overall circulation, giving you that boost of energy you need to start your day.


When you’re running on little to no sleep, everyday tasks can seem even more stressful than usual and you’ll find yourself performing slower. When this happens, it is best to prioritize whatever absolutely needs to be done today and put other tasks off until tomorrow.

Taking on the toughest, most important projects first will actually help with your work performance, even when super sleep-deprived. This is because there is a two-hour window one hour after you wake up, even when exhausted, when you’re going to be most productive. Therefore, if you wake up at 7 a.m., then you can expect to be most productive from 8-10 a.m.

Skip the caffeine

When you’re running low on energy, you’ll want to automatically reach for that cup of coffee or energy drink. But wait — don’t reach for it just yet! Caffeine may give you a boost of energy for a short period of time, but then you’ll feel a crash.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, caffeine “cannot replace sleep; it can temporarily make us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production.” If you want a sudden boost of energy and don’t think you’ll mind the crash later, then by all means, brew a cup of Joe. Just remember that the caffeine in coffee can increase the stress hormones in your body, which can make you even more exhausted.


Exercise is probably one of the last things on your mind when all you want to do is sleep. But the more you move, the less tired you’ll feel. Try to get to the gym in the morning, or exercise in the comfort of your home — anything to get your blood pumping. Just be sure your workout isn’t close to your usual bedtime because you’ll be too pumped up to fall asleep, and that’s the exact opposite of what you want to achieve.

The harm of no sleep and how to fix it

Sleep is necessary for your brain to function at its best and keep your overall physical health in tip-top shape. There are certain health risks as well that come with exhaustion. Sleep deprivation will leave you with poor judgment, which can lead to injuries, whether on the road or at work. Lack of sleep can also lead to heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

So what can you do to ensure you get a good night’s sleep? According to a study published by Sleep Medicine, “insomniacs who did 16 weeks of aerobic exercise — walking outside or using a treadmill or stationary bike — for 30 to 40 minutes four times a week slept an extra 75 minutes per night.” You should also keep your meals lighter in the evening and limit your exposure to light before hitting the hay.

Sleepless nights are something that we’re all going to suffer through at some point, but they don't have to mean your day is shot. Fortunately, there are ways to keep yourself going throughout the day. However, if you’re experiencing insomnia often, be sure to speak with your doctor about a long-term solution.

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