I read that it takes 4 to 6 years after the birth of a baby for the parents to return to pre-pregnancy levels of sleep. My youngest is 4 so I believe my breakthrough is right around the corner – I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! So regardless of whether it’s because of your kids or some other reason, most of us experience some level of sleep interruption here and there.
I’ve got a front-row seat on the struggle bus after I’ve had a bad night of sleep. 🙂 It’s like I’m impaired – even my balance is off! Not to mention, my fuse is super short, I’m irritable, and I can’t focus.
So, I started looking into what I could do – the things I could control – to function better the morning after a bad night of sleep. I searched and experimented with things I could do for my body and mind to get through the day as best I could. And I want to share those with you today!
Before we jump into the things we can do the next morning, let’s explore the things we can do at night to try to get a better night’s sleep. Bad nights are inevitable, but we really want to try to avoid stacking them up.
The best way to recover after a sleepless night is to not let it become two (or more) nights of disrupted sleep. Aim to go to sleep at the same time you usually do the night after not sleeping well and get back to a regular, consistent sleep schedule as soon as possible. So if we have one rough night, we kind of want to treat it like a sick day. We want to do what we can to avoid another rough night so the next day we can try to get back to business as usual.
First, just go to bed early. Cancel anything you need to cancel, skip the Netflix and the scrolling – and set yourself up for sleep. Make sure your room is dark, the temperature is cool, and devices are out of reach.
I also set my intentions for the next day before I go to bed and I write down the top 3 things I need to do the next day to get my family and business going. Getting those things out of my head and onto paper not only helps me sleep better because it keeps my brain from going 100 mph all night, but it also means that when I wake up, I’ve already decided what I want.
That way, if my brain is at half capacity in the morning because I haven’t slept well for some reason, I don’t have to think about what I have to do that day, because I already prioritized it the night before!
Finally, after a bad night’s sleep, don’t panic! The more you think about how poorly you slept, the worse you’ll feel. You’ve survived poor sleep before, with a few smart tricks to help you find some energy; you’ll manage just fine this time, too. Here are some things we can do to make the best of it the next day and recover as best we can.
1. Hydrate and move your body
If you’ve had a rough night and you get out of bed feeling tired, grab a glass of water before you have your coffee. We feel even more tired when our body is dehydrated. Start your day with a large glass of water and continue drinking regularly throughout the day.
Then move your body! One of the most powerful and effective things you can do when you get up after a bad night’s sleep is to move. Movement is really helpful and it’s even better if you can do it outside in the sunshine.
And then keep moving! You can even put it on your calendar or set some reminders or alarms throughout the day to do 1 minute of cardio every hour.
I was exercising with my daughter a few days ago, and we were doing some sort of cardio and she says, “I can feel my heart partying.” And that’s what we want to do! Just get our heart partying for a minute every hour.
Jumping jacks, jump rope, pushups, jog around your house, a few burpees – keep it simple, but just getting your heart rate up for a minute every hour will make you feel better and help keep your energy up and keep you focused. That’s all it is – it’s easy, quick, and gets you pumped throughout the day.
2. Don’t over caffeinate
When we have a rough night’s sleep, our routine might be to chug a ton of coffee to try to get through the day, but we really want to avoid over-caffeinating. It’s actually counterproductive. It’s going to backfire in the evening so we’re really just setting ourselves up for another rough night of sleep.
We know that caffeine, in moderation, can help to give us an energy boost. A cup or two of tea or coffee in the morning can help us get through the day.
However, it’s important not to overuse caffeine. Two cups of coffee will give you about as much alertness as you’re going to get from it. That’s because caffeine lasts an average of 6 to 8 hours in the brain. And if you’re drinking it into the afternoon, one bad night’s sleep may roll into another one.
3. Eat a healthy breakfast
Get yourself some healthy proteins and whole grains – scramble a couple of eggs and put them over avocado toast. The days you’re already feeling off are probably not the morning to have pastries or a sugary start – sure you’ll get that little sugar boost, but then you’re really going to struggle during the crash.
And if whipping up a breakfast feels like you’re asking too much of your tired self – start with a morning smoothie. Fruit is a great way to start. They’ll give you energy throughout the morning. And then keep your meals small throughout the day. If you’re already feeling super tired and foggy, a big meal is not gonna do you any favors.
4. Listen to high-energy music
Make or find yourself a couple of playlists on Spotify or wherever you listen to music – you can even do this ahead of time – so that when those tired days come, you have a playlist ready that you know never fails to pump you up!
5. Nap if you can
Whether we’ve had a good night’s rest or not, our energy levels sometimes dip after lunch – that 2 pm feeling, right? So if you’re you’re short on sleep and you can find the time for a quick 20-minute recharge, go for it – but keep it at that! Any longer might make you drowsier and you’re going to sabotage having a good night’s sleep the following night.
Set an alarm for 20-30 minutes. If you can’t sleep or won’t fall asleep right away, that’s ok – any rest you’re able to get will be better than none. Even just closing your eyes and resting your mind can help you re-focus and make it through the rest of the afternoon.
6. Strategize your work
Try to focus on the tasks that you are really passionate about, the things that really matter. With this, you can let the adrenaline and passion take you a bit during the day and keep your energy up. If you do a job that you find monotonous or something that requires a lot of attention, you will be distracted.
Bottom line – don’t freak out, nourish your body with food and water, and move! Then if there’s work you’ve gotta do, just allow for some strategic flexibility .
Not every day has to be rockstar productivity! Life happens, especially as a mom. So roll with the punches. Slow down if you need to. You’re holding a lot and trying to do all that short on sleep is really hard. Give yourself some grace. Extend yourself some compassion. I promise you, you’re doing better than you think.
And how do you recover from a bad night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments!