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11 Ways To Get Through The Day After A Bad Night’s Sleep

Sleepless nights happen to us all at some point. Most of us have the best of intentions, but sometimes life just gets in the way, or there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Whether you have a baby keeping you awake, a serious Netflix addiction, or you are a workaholic, you will struggle to get through the day on too little sleep. But luckily there are plenty of things you can do to make it a little bit easier to stay productive until you can be reunited with your bed.

Don’t hit snooze

Delaying the inevitable by hitting the snooze button will do no favours, so even if you wake up feeling dreadful and you just can’t face dragging yourself out of bed, just force yourself.

The few minutes extra sleep you get after your alarm has gone off isn’t restorative sleep, so it isn’t benefiting you at all, and you will probably feel groggier because you are taking longer to wake up.

Natural light

Expose yourself to natural light to tell your body that it’s time to rise and shine, so throw the curtains open as soon as you wake up.

If you work in an office with fluorescent lighting, your body clock can get messed up and you can lose track of time. A 2012 study linked artificial lighting with poor performance in some cognitive tasks, so try to get outside in the afternoon or at lunch time to reset.

Eat the right things

It can be super tempting to skip breakfast, and then fill up on junk throughout the day. This is largely because your hormones go a little crazy when you haven’t slept enough.

Don’t give in to your cravings, as sweet snacks, and processed carbohydrates will make your blood sugar levels spike and crash, which is not only really bad for you, but will make you feel super sleepy again when you do crash.

Complex carbs and protein provide a slow release of energy through the day, so have a healthy breakfast and lunch and you will feel much better for it.


Coffee is a saving grace when you haven’t had enough sleep. It’s almost like an artificial nap. It makes us more alert and increases concentration which is a great when you’re trying to make it through a meeting.

The effects of caffeine take about 30 minutes to kick in, so pace yourself and try to avoid overdoing it. Too much caffeine can make you jittery, and give you headaches and palpitations. This article from Mayo Clinic recommends a maximum of four cups per day.


As well as coffee, you should also be making sure you drink the correct amount of water, especially if you haven’t had enough sleep.

Dehydration leads to a loss of strength and stamina, and sometimes fatigue is actually a sign of dehydration - so you certainly don’t want to be dehydrated when you already know you haven’t slept enough!

Aim to drink 6 to 8 cups of water a day. Drinking cold water, or adding ice can really help perk you up when you’re feeling tired, too.

Fake it

If you wear makeup, you can do a few things to minimise the signs of fatigue, and perhaps make it through the day without any comments about how tired you look.

Putting white eyeshadow on the inner corners of your eyes will brighten them up, as will applying a white eyeliner to your waterline. A bright lipstick is a good way to draw attention away from the bags under your eyes.

Prioritise your workload

You will be a lot more productive in the mornings, so use that time to do the most important work. Later in the afternoon when you really start flagging, tick off some of the more mundane tasks off your to-do list. While they are probably really boring, at least they hopefully require less concentration.


You may not have a huge amount of time when you wake up if you haven’t had enough sleep, so you probably didn’t set your alarm for your 6am spinning class. Even so, try to do some exercise.

Even just a quick walk or a 15-minute workout will promote blood circulation, which improves attention. Avoid strenuous exercise though, as you are actually more prone to hurting yourself when you’re tired.

Take a power nap

If you can, try to sneak in a power nap on your lunch break. Your energy levels and cognitive performance can really improve after just ten minutes of sleep.

Do avoid sleeping for any longer than 20 minutes, whoever, as this is when you enter deep sleep mode. Having to wake up once you’ve entered deep sleep will probably make you feel worse than you did before.

Listen to Music

If you can listen to music in your job, you should find or create a playlist of energising tunes to get you through the day. This re-energise playlist on Spotify is a good place to start.

Take care

Not only do you have slower reactions, making things such as driving and operating heavy machinery tasks that you may wish to avoid, but be careful to not allow your sleepiness to negatively affect your job or your relationships either.

When you’re tired, your prefrontal cortex which regulates your self-control isn’t functioning properly. This can cause you to take bigger risks, and have less self-control. If you haven’t had enough sleep to replenish serotonin you will be irritable and grumpy, which can have a negative impact on friendships and relationships.

Just try to keep at the back of your mind that you need to spend more time thinking things over, and keep yourself in check throughout the day.

Hopefully getting too little sleep isn’t too much of a regular occurrence for you, and these tips have given you enough pointers to make it through the day until normality can resume. If you do find yourself in this situation often, you may want to consider these ten reasons why you should aim for a better night’s sleep.

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