For Glamour, by Suzannah Weiss.
Sure, sure, getting a good night’s sleep is very important. But sometimes it’s just not possible. And all the tips in the world on how to sleep well are totally useless once you’ve already woken up from a night of little or no shut-eye. Luckily, even after the damage has been done, there are some ways to bounce back. Here’s what experts recommend for damage control:
1. Eat right away.
Sleep deprivation can mess with your hunger signals in a number of ways: It can make you feel hungrier all day, and it can make it harder to keep cravings in check if you indulge in a little bit of junk food. Stay away from the candy and start your day with a healthy breakfast to keep the good vibes going all day. Eating something with protein will help keep you energized throughout the day, says registered dietician Megan Faletra.
“Stay away from the candy and start your day with a healthy breakfast to keep the good vibes going all day.”
2. Go out in the sun.
Bright light helps wake you up, says Cathy Goldstein, M.D., a neurologist at Michigan Medicine’s Sleep Disorders Center. So try to get outside and turn on as many lights as you can — don’t cower in your room under your phone’s glow even if you feel groggy.
3. Get moving.
Exercise might be the last thing you want to do when you’re short on rest, but even just a few stretches or jumping jacks can help get you going, says Courtney Bancroft, Psy.D., a licensed clinical health psychologist specializing in insomnia and sleep wellness. One caveat: Some trainers say they don’t like it when their clients train on a poor night’s sleep, so your best bet here is light exercise — nothing too strenuous, please!
4. Do some deep breathing.
Breathing exercises can wake you up in a way similar to exercise, says Bancroft. Try sticking your tongue out and panting for 30 seconds, breathing in deeply, and repeating. Or try alternate nostril breathing: Cover your right nostril with your thumb and breath in through your left nostril for four to eight seconds; cover the left with your pinkie and exhale out of your right for the same amount of time. Then breathe in on the right side, covering the left. Keep alternating for one minute.
5. Get chilly.
Heat can make you feel even sleepier. Bancroft recommends taking a cold shower, turning down your thermostat, or even just running your hands under cool water to keep alert.
6. Try not to nap.
Stay awake all day after a bad night, and you’ll be able to fall asleep easier the next time, Bancroft says. “This keeps the sleep drive — one of the major systems that affects our ability to fall asleep — ’hungry,’ so to speak, for sleep,” she explains. If you can’t resist napping, avoid going more than 45 minutes, or you may be vulnerable to sleep inertia, “persistent grogginess after awakening,” says Dr. Goldstein. It’s also best to nap before 2:00 or 3:00 P.M. so your circadian rhythm can reset and you don’t experience yet another night of tossing and turning.
7. Drink tons of water.
Dehydration can make you even more tired, so Faletra recommends drinking two to three liters of water over the course of the day.
8. Avoid your devices once it gets dark.
Since grogginess can make you less productive, you might be tempted to work later than usual. But the light coming from your screen could keep you up late too, so force yourself to stop two hours before bedtime, says Dr. Goldstein.
9. Drink coffee. (Bet you thought we weren’t going to say that!)
Coffee really does help keep you going, says Dr. Goldstein, since it reduces adenosine, a neurotransmitter your brain releases when you’re sleep-deprived. Just try not to have a cup after 2:00 P.M., since misuse of coffee can make sleeplessness a self-perpetuating cycle.
Really, the most important thing is that next night — it’s what will keep one bad day from becoming a pattern of sleeplessness.
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