The best way to beat sleep deprivation is to sleep
The right kind of food, drink and activity can buy you some time
Don’t overdo the caffeine
Everyone’s had his or her fair share of late nights. Whether you're a student studying for midterms or finals, a parent soothing a newborn, or a professional working toward an impossible deadline, we all know how awful the next morning can feel. Heavy eyelids, headache, fatigue and a general sense of malaise are just some of the symptoms waiting for you on the other side of a long night.
10 easy and healthy energy-boosting tips
While the best way to beat sleep deprivation is to sleep, there are healthy ways to offset the effects of an all-nighter. These tips will help you get through the day until you can hit the hay.
- Eat a healthy meal
People tend to reach for high-calorie, sugary foods like candy bars or chips when they're tired. While this may help in the very short term, once the sugar wears off you may feel worse than you did before. Try eating a healthy, well-balanced meal filled with protein, leafy greens and whole grains to give your metabolism the boost it needs to help you get through the day. Check out the St. Joseph Health collection of healthy recipes.
- Drink more water
Re-hydrating first thing in the morning and staying hydrated throughout the day can help prevent the compounding effects of tiredness. A well-hydrated body allows for a healthy flow of oxygen, improving your energy level, alertness and focus.
- Snack on an orange or grapefruit
The smell of citrus boosts serotonin, a feel-good hormone that contributes to an overall sense of well-being and happiness. Even squeezing a bit of lemon juice into your water can leave you feeling more positive, focused and awake.
- Get outside
Tiredness typically peaks between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.; it’s the perfect time to get outside. Your body will feel refreshed after a dose of vitamin D from the sun — and changing your scenery for a few minutes will help your brain stay active and engaged.
- Move your body
Sitting in one place for too long may constrict your circulation. When that happens less oxygen makes its way to your brain, which may leave you feeling foggy. Taking a brisk walk or engaging in some type of aerobic activity can give you a temporary boost of energy.
- Cool off
Warm environments tend to make people sleepy. Find a cool place or take a cool shower to help wake up in the morning. Stepping into a cool shower may cause you to take a few deep breaths, which boosts your heart rate. A blast of cool water in the morning also helps reduce stress and improve overall circulation.
- Drink a little coffee
Caffeine, which should be consumed in moderation, has considerably less sugar and works to temporarily block the receptors in your brain that cause drowsiness. We probably didn’t have to tell you this one, but it’s important to avoid high-caffeine energy drinks to boost your energy. Energy drinks are full of sugar and may provide an initial boost of energy, but when your blood sugar crashes you’re right back where you started. Find out how much caffeine is in your favorite drink.
- Try bhastrika or ‘bellow breath’
If you need a super-fast energy boost, like right before a presentation or meeting, try taking a few bellow breaths. Start by breathing in and out rapidly through your nose for about 15 seconds. Bhastrika is a traditional breathing technique in yoga that helps increase your prana or life force. If you’ve never tried it before, you’ve got nothing to lose. You may find it energizes your body and clarifies your mind.
- Take a power nap, if you can
Set your alarm for 15-20 minutes and snooze. Any longer than that and you may find it more difficult to wake up. Twenty minutes is the optimal time to reap the benefits of restorative sleep and help you feel more alert. A quick power nap can also improve your mood, increase your productivity and lower your stress. Here are a few naptime tips to help you get the maximum benefit from your power nap.
- Listen to music
Listening to upbeat music you love will help perk you up, elevate your heart rate and put you in a better mood. If you’re at work, pop on a pair of headphones and groove your way through the day.
With these tips, you should be able to power through the day until your head can land softly on your pillow and you can drift off to a full night of sleep. If your sleep problems extend beyond an occasional long night, tell your doctor. Search for “Sleep Medicine” to find a sleep specialist near you.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.