This article originally published September 9, 2015.
Need to get a better night's sleep so you can work harder tomorrow? It will happen to you at some point: The kids kept you up all night. You toss and turn until 4 a.m. because you’re worried about bills. You just wrapped up a project, and now it’s 2 a.m.
No matter the culprit, we’ve all had those nights when we don't get enough sleep. So, what’s person to do when that alarm clock annoyingly goes off in the morning? Aside from drinking caffeine (in moderation), try these 10 other techniques in order to function on that suboptimal amount of sleep you had the night before.
1. Drink lots of water.
We get fatigued when we’re dehydrated. So, the more water we drink, the more alert and wake we feel. Besides, drinking all of that water requires more restroom breaks, which in turn is a simple way to be more active and not fall asleep at the desk.
Bonus tip: Add some lemon to your water. The zest should pep you up.
2. Get your blood moving.
Speaking of being active, a workout is great way to wake up. Exercise boosts energy and adrenaline levels through circulation and a speed-up to your metabolism. And those changes should help you survive the day. Exercise will also help you sleep better at night.
If you don’t have time for a complete workout, just run up and down a set of stairs or go for a walk during a break.
3. Cut back on large meals.
Avoid eating large meals, junk food or a ton of carbohydrates. Those types of foods will make you drowsy. Instead, munch on a series of lighter meals that are lean and contain plenty of proteins: specifically, foods that contain tyrosine.
Whole grains, fruits and veggies, yogurt, chicken and fish are examples of food that won’t slow you down and will keep you alert.
4. Go outside.
Sunlight helps you battle afternoon sleepiness because it increases the levels of vitamins D and B. On top of that, sunlight in moderation will improve your mood, help you focus and give your immune system a little boost, which is needed because you put your immune system in danger when you don’t get enough sleep.
If you can’t make it outside during a break, try sitting next to a window or installing high-intensity light bulbs. However, the fresh air and change of scenery that the outdoors provides is preferable.
5. Take a cold shower.
A cold shower stimulates your body, and the sudden shock will often help wake you up. Of course, you may not be able to take a cold shower multiple times throughout the day.
If you’re at work, try splashing some cold water on your face in the restroom or placing an ice cube on your wrists or temple.
6. Change things up.
Monotony won't help you stay awake. Throughout the day, change things up so you have some variety to keep you going.
Whether that means joking around with co-workers, making phone calls, watching movie trailers on YouTube, playing a computer game or doing a little yoga in your office, spicing up your day will keep you stimulated when you’re extremely tired.
7. Have a piece of gum.
Researchers have discovered that chewing gum can reduce sleepiness, probably because it enhances cerebral activity. If you want to get the most out of your gum-chewing experience, stick with mint-flavored gum because mint has more of a rousing effect.
Chewing gum will give you only a temporary burst, so rely on it at those rare times when you really need a boost.
8. Prioritize and simplify your day.
When you’re tired, you probably aren’t at your most productive. So, why would you stress yourself out and try to complete ten different tasks? Chances are, you can get away with shaving down that list by crossing off your most important ones and leaving items that can wait until another day. In other words, simplify your day as much as possible.
Bonus tip: If you can, delegate some of these tasks, both professional and personal, to other people.
9. Avoid driving.
Driving when you’re tired is extremely dangerous. Instead of taking this risk, rely on public transportation or carpooling.
Not only will you prevent a severe accident, you may even have a couple of minutes to close your eyes.
10. Take a catnap.
If you’re able to, take a catnap in the early afternoon -- around 2 p.m. Taking a 20-to-25-minute nap is a great way to recharge your mind and body. If you aren’t fortunate to work in a place with quiet areas or don’t have your own office, be creative.
If you drive to work, take a nap in the car on your lunch break.
While getting enough sleep should be a goal for us all, in reality it just isn't going to happen every night. These tips will help you get through the day. What works for you? Share your tips in the comments section!