We all know we’re supposed to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but even when we get to bed at a decent hour that doesn’t always happen. Last night my 3 year old kept waking up crying. This isn’t typical for him but he has been sick this past week and was just diagnosed with a double ear infection. (ouch!) He’s now enjoying sleeping in while I’m up getting my older kids ready for school and looking at my list of things to do today. Somehow I need to find enough energy to take a child to a Dr.’s appointment, go to a program at the elementary school, a parent meeting, and put on a piano recital tonight. (I’m a piano teacher). The timing of these sleepless nights are never good. However, with these tips, I have the best chance of regaining some energy and sanity to get through my day.
1. Don’t dwell on the lack of sleep or count the hours missed. What’s done is done. Dwelling on it just creates stress and anxiety.
2. Try to get out in the sunlight or at least by a window with the morning light shining in. This will help you feel more alert, help your mood, and reset your biological clock.
3. Meditate. Take deep breaths in and out and slow down your thinking. Be in the moment before taking on the day.
4. Take multi-vitamins and drink an Emergen-C. Not only does Emergen-C help me when I’m feeling sick (which I often do after a poor night’s sleep), it also gives me energy to tackle my day.
5. Drink lots of water in the morning. Drinking water wakes your body up and keeping your body hydrated helps you to maintain your energy level. It also helps you stay healthy.
6. Get moving. Do some stretches or light exercise. See “Stretches for Your Aching Back“. Try not to skip your exercise routine but keep it lighter. A heavy workout can backfire by making you more tired later, but a light work out should give you energy. You can injure yourself easier when you are overly tired, which is another reason to keep your workout light.
7. Eat protein rich foods like nuts, peanut butter, eggs, greek yogurt, and lean meats. Avoid a heavy carb meal, especially for lunch since that can cause your energy to dip and sleepiness to sink in. Vegetables, especially greens are great too. The natural sugar in fruit is better than reaching for a candy bar for that “sugar rush” energy feeling. High sugar content is sure to send you into a sugar crash nap later, but fruit takes longer to digest so your sugar level is better maintained.
8. Go for a walk outdoors. Getting fresh air and sunlight, which gives you energy boosting Vitamin D naturally, is great for increasing energy levels. An added benefit is the light exercise, which also increases energy levels.
9. Caffeine in moderation may be helpful. “Two cups of coffee, for instance, will give you about as much alertness as you’re going to get. Drinking more than that probably won’t make you more alert, especially if you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages, says Jeffrey Durmer, MD, chief medical officer at FusionSleep Center in Atlanta.” (WebMD.com) Energy drinks can sometimes be a temporary pick me up in a pinch but should not be used regularly. Avoid caffeine after 4 pm since it can make it hard to fall asleep at a regular bedtime.
10. Take a short cat nap late morning or early afternoon if possible. Just 15-25 minutes can give you enough energy to make it through a few more hours of your day. Use a timer or an alarm so you don’t sleep too long or you’ll wake up groggy and more tired and have a hard time falling asleep that night.
11. Turn on some happy, fast beat, energizing music to help you get moving.
50 Songs to Get You Energized
12. Be extra kind to yourself today. If possible, cut back on one or two things you wanted to get done and put them off until tomorrow. Save your energy for the things you can’t move around. I will be putting off that load of laundry for another day and saving my energy for the appointments I have to do today.
13. Give yourself permission to take shortcuts. For me, that means that instead of making some home baked goods for my piano recital this morning, I’m going to stop by the grocery store bakery. We can’t do it all, and that’s ok!
14. Try to let the small stuff go and realize that your lack of sleep may make you more moody today. “Without sufficient shut-eye, brain chemicals like serotonin don’t have time to replenish, making you irritable and moody, Walsleben says. It’s no surprise, then, that sleep-deprived couples have a tough time valuing and expressing appreciation for their significant other the next day, according to a recent study from the University of California, Berkeley.” (FitnessMagazine.com)
15. Try not to make important decisions today. “The prefrontal cortex of the brain that regulates self-control gets thrown out of whack, Barnes says. The result: Those who are sleep deprived are more likely to have less self-control, take greater risks, and focus on the reward rather than the danger.” (FitnessMagazine.com) If possible, save big decisions and big discussions for another day when you aren’t sleep deprived. If you need to make a decision, take a walk and think about it.
How do you recover the sleep lost? It’s ok to go to bed up to an hour earlier, but try not to sleep before that or it may mess up your regular sleep schedule. Sleeping in a little is fine too, but by the time you’ve hit 10 hours of sleep, you’ve maxed out your recovery time so there’s no reason to sleep in longer than that.