6 Ways To Survive The Day On Little-To-No Sleep

By | Tuesday, September 14, 2021

​​We’ve all been there. It’s our least favorite recipe = a short night and a long day ahead. I hate it, you hate it. And yet, we’re here.

Powering through the day on little-to-no sleep is never fun but it’s necessary. Call it adulting, if you must. And while most of us have graduated from hating nap time to fully embracing a sleep schedule, life happens and the show (well, the work) must go on.

So here are six steps I use to get through my day when I’m running low on fumes.

Make A Quick Tasks List

I am the queen of making a quick checklist or tasks list for the day ahead of me. This list, which is always handwritten and only takes a few seconds to a couple of minutes to draft, is either done the night before or, in this case, the day of. On the morning after a night of little-to-no sleep, make a list of the most important tasks you have to complete until the day is entirely yours to own again. I’ve learned that itemizing my days in order of priority (e.g. work items, appointments, important errands, etc.) both simplifies the actions ahead, as well as incentivizes me to get through them more willingly and easily.

Drink Water (Bonus: Use A Water Reminder)

Believe it or not, a huge cause of fatigue is dehydration. By now we all know the benefits of drinking at least half our weight in water, but what you may have forgotten is that water regulates your body’s homeostasis through hydration. Basically, the more water you intake on a tired day, the more your body and mind becomes alert. Plus, you’ll have to use the bathroom more which gives you a reason to get up and move around, which is also good for getting your blood flowing and your energy going. If you have one on hand, add some lemon to your water tumbler or slice a couple of wedges and squeeze into your bottle. And if you need (or simply want) a fun way to remember to stay hydrated, add a water reminder to your phone to alert you to sip on the hour, every hour (or every 90 minutes). My advice: start your day with at least 16 oz of water & lemon and yes, do this before you take a single sip of coffee. Speaking of which —

Have Caffeine (But In Moderation)

It’s tempting not to grab the nearest cuppa joe near you after a night of little sleep. Heck, if you’re anything like me during my dark times, I settled for a cup of Coke Zero when I had no coffee on hand, despite there being plenty of water and lemons in my fridge. While coffee or espresso is a sure guarantee to boost your energy in the morning, we all know it leads to a system crash before your first Zoom meeting.

My advice? Have your coffee *after* your water and sip it, *don’t chug* it. This will allow the effects of the caffeine to slowly enter your body and work its caffeinated magic without you crashing. The water (and optional but strongly suggested lemon add-on) will work as a natural detox in your system and help aid in gently cleansing your body of the harsh caffeine shock, to avoid a possible sugar crash soon after.

Get Active

…. or simply move around. As stated before, being active will get your energy going and your blood flowing and naturally too. The natural endorphins that come from exercising (especially a cardio-inspired activity such as a quick run) is unmatched when it comes to energy-boosting. You’ll be able to clear your mind and get your adrenaline pumping. While you can always look up a quick 10-15 minute exercise vid and follow along I highly recommend that if you can make your way outside, the benefits of the extra vitamin D from the sun will be super helpful in getting you perky.

Avoid Heavier Meals & Sugar Overloading

No one is saying *don’t* eat just eat mindfully and intuitively. On days were you’re already sluggish, similar to avoiding too much caffeine, steering clear of foods that can weigh you down or slow you down is best. Though a sugary treat can be tempting (and hello, donuts and bagels are pretty convenient, am I right?) you’ll pay for it later when your body starts crashing. Instead, consider “power” foods such as a quinoa or acai bowl, a hearty smoothie (with half fruit / half veggies), non-starchy proteins, etc. These foods will keep you both full and energized all day instead of just satisfied for the moment.

Just Do It.

…last, but certainly not least, just try your best to power through it. I know, it hurts. It sucks. I’m also no one’s favorite person after a night of no sleep. But as the saying goes, “This too shall pass” and sometimes keeping your eye on the prize (aka your bed and a good night’s sleep to follow shortly after) is motive and incentive enough to keep on trucking. They say manifest what you want and you want this day to go by quickly, right? While I can’t speak for everyone, I’m going to guess that for at least 99% of the people reading this, it isn’t your first rodeo trying to survive the long day after a short night. So my advice — hang in there. Focus on your tasks ahead and use the above tips to get through the day and eventually, into your bed in the end.

Image via Unsplash

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