How to Have a Good Day After a Bad Night of SleepNone By Jared Minkel, Ph.D.
When people think about how to improve their sleep, they often focus only on the night, but it’s just as important to think about what you can do during the day to set you up for good sleep at bedtime.
One of the most common mistakes people make is to try to rest up or take it easy during the day. This turns out to be a bad idea, but it’s easy to understand why people fall into this trap. Our energy sometimes feels like a limited resource that we can use up, like a car uses up gas. Without good sleep at night, people think they need to rest up and take it easy. The problem is, we’re not cars, and we don’t have a gas tank. You can actually increase your energy and reduce fatigue by doing more, not less. Let me walk you through what this looks like in a few key areas.
Stick to Your Full Schedule
At work or school, don’t call in sick or cancel appointments. Stick to the same schedule you planned when you thought you would sleep well. Not only will this keep you busy so you don’t think about how tired you are, but you get an additional benefit too—the next time you’re in bed and can’t sleep, you won’t have to worry about how you’ll cope the next day. You’ll know you can handle your responsibilities even after a bad night of sleep.
Spend Time with High-Energy People
When it comes to other people, you might be tempted to “lay low” and avoid people as much as possible. Instead, find people who make you feel awake and alive and spend some time with them. If you go out to dinner or to a party, talk to people. If you are more introverted, find just one friend or family member who you enjoy spending time with. It’s very important both to be around people and to fully engage. This will help reduce irritability and improve your mood, too.
Trust Your Body and Calm Your Mind
During the day, don’t waste your time thinking about how you’re going to catch up on sleep later. Remember that your body can adjust to help you sleep more deeply. Going to bed early or taking naps will just make your sleep pressure line up wrong with your internal clock and make things worse in the long run. Instead, keep to your normal schedule. Trust your body to get the sleep it needs. Along the same lines, don’t waste your time checking the clock and calculating how much sleep you got last night. It doesn’t matter and will only make you feel nervous, worried or irritated.
Don't Order the Venti at Starbucks
Stick to natural methods for increasing energy. It’s okay to have a cup of coffee when you’re tired, but it’s best to avoid caffeine pills, “energy drinks”, or giant cups of coffee. These methods tend to work over short periods, but then you crash or get side effects you wish you didn’t have. You can get some of the same benefits from sunlight, talking to friends, or getting some exercise (even just standing or walking). These aren’t always as powerful over the short term, but will set you up for much more success over a couple of weeks.
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