3 safe ways to stay awake and alert after a sleepless night
One of the most essential habits for maintaining a productive mind and a healthy body is developing a regular, healthy sleep schedule. Still, everyone has nights where they fall behind on rest, whether they’re caught up in a Netflix movie marathon, out too late with friends, or are simply struggling to catch some z’s.
A significant lack of sleep during the night can make the following day feel endless, exhausting, and unproductive. If you can’t call out of work or abandon your daily responsibilities, trying to keep from dozing off after a sleepless night can seem like an impossible task. However, there are still ways to stay awake post-sleeplessness that are more effective than simply chugging a cup of coffee and taking the day by storm. These are three ways you can keep yourself awake, alert, and active after an evening of no sleep.
Prioritize what needs to be done
When you’re genuinely exhausted, you’re not going to be able to get everything done that you may have previously planned on accomplishing. If you try to take on too much when you’re tired, you’ll likely end up producing work that is low in quality or half-baked, ending up with disappointed higher-ups and tons of corrections to be taken care of. In order to avoid producing confusing or half-completed work, figuring out what you are able to accomplish on your exhausted brain is a must. At the start of your day, take the time to personally prioritize what tasks must be done, what you want to get done, and what can be put aside for another day.
Throughout the day, focus your energy on projects which need your immediate attention, putting your best foot forward in each of those endeavors (even if you must work slower) and allowing less important responsibilities to fall to the back burner. Any tasks that can be taken care of less urgently should be set aside until you’re certain you have the energy, focus, and time to accomplish them. You may end up having to manage a larger workload the following workday, but you’ll also be assured that the work you produce is smart, thoughtful, and killer in quality.
Drink more (and eat less)
We’re not talking about coffee, O.J., or whiskey. After a sleepless night, if you didn’t hydrate throughout the evening, you’re likely to experience moderate dehydration. Dehydration is exhausting on its own, and, when coupled with a lack of sleep, it’s a sure-fire recipe for fatigue. In order to fight this tiredness without overdoing your caffeine consumption, drinking plenty of water is essential. Water isn’t a natural stimulant, but it helps your body function better as a whole, contributing to greater alertness throughout the day. Plus, trips to retrieve more water and go to the restroom also function as short bursts of exercise. A bit of movement can help you avoid accidentally drifting off while working.
When it comes to food, keeping your portions small and your carbohydrate levels low can help you fight sleepiness and avoid worsening your drowsiness. While your body will crave carbs, sugar, and other junk foods to keep it awake, indulging in these cravings will provide only a slight burst of energy before you crash. Additionally, large, junky portions will take far longer to digest than smaller portions, resulting in the release of more serotonin/insulin, and lower your energetic vigilance to seek out food. These natural bodily functions prefacing/during the digestive cycle will make you extremely drowsy as you fight your pre-existing fatigue. Sticking to smaller portions of healthy, protein-packed foods, such as chicken, eggs, nuts, beans, and fruits/veggies will help you avoid any food-based sleepiness that you may experience.
Schedule in breaks
Chances are that when you haven’t slept, you’ll struggle to stay alert, aware, and focused throughout the following day. Rather than forcing yourself to stay active in spite of your fatigue, scheduling in breaks may prevent you from burning out and producing work that is poor in quality. One simple activity that can help you hit the restart button and restore some of your energy is taking a walk outside. Even a mere ten minutes spent walking around in the sunlight gets your blood pumping and can restore some of the energy that you lost while missing out on a night of rest. Additionally, if you’re able to take a lunch break, stealing a short nap during this time can provide you with the benefits of an extra hour’s worth of sleep that you missed the night before. You may not be used to taking frequent breaks, but when you’re running on empty, they can help you stay awake, restore your focus, and keep from dozing off at your desk.