As much time as I spend extolling the benefits of getting enough sleep, sometimes you just can’t do it. Whether it’s a family emergency, a sick little one, or the best party of the year, we all have nights when that magic “seven to nine hours” isn’t going to happen.
When you’re faced with a busy morning after one of those late nights, it can feel almost impossible to get going and do what you know you have to do. Here are a few ideas to jump-start your energy, your appearance, and your productivity.
- Up the ante on your morning facial routine. Think cold. Put your eye cream in the fridge for a few minutes before you use it, splash cold water on your face, suck on an ice cube, even make a skin-toning “facial” out of milk and ice (dip in a washcloth, wring it out, and spread it on your face for five minutes). The cold constricts blood vessels, minimizing puffiness and blotchy skin while giving your whole body an un-mistakable wake-up call. Repeat whatever parts of this routine that you can during the day when you desperately need a wake-up call.
- Keep the caffeine under control. Of course you’re going to want that cup of tea or coffee in the a.m.—just don’t drink the whole pot. A little stimulant goes a long way, and if you over-wire yourself you’re bound to feel the effect of the crash right around lunchtime or early afternoon, when your body wants to take a nap anyway.
- Combine a lunchtime coffee with a power nap. Pick a comfy chair in your favorite coffee shop, or go home if you can. Down a cup of coffee and snuggle up for a 15-minute power nap—but no longer! Caffeine takes 20 minutes to kick in and the combo of a quick, shallow sleep with the stimulant effects upon waking can be a powerful one-two punch. Just resist the urge to sleep longer, or you’ll be dragging the rest of the day.
- Go for light physical activity. A light workout will stimulate endorphine and adrenaline release and keep you awake, but a heavy-duty workout will encourage deep relaxation afterward, tempting your body to sleep. Go for a walk, take the stairs, do some yoga—just don’t run a half-marathon. Some gentle yoga postures are excellent for invigorating the body.
- Eat healthy. Eating healthy, light foods at regular intervals will give you the healthy energy you need to get through your day. Heavy carbs and starches will slow you down and sugars, while stimulating for the short term, come with a painful “crash.” Keep it healthy, keep it regular, and keep your portions under control. Add stimulating flavors like spearmint gum to invigorate you.
Keep yourself awake in the evening until at least 7 or 8 pm, then allow yourself to fall asleep early so you can catch up on sleep. These solutions should keep you going at least that long. Just keep in mind that these are only short-term fixes—at some point you’re going to have to repay that sleep debt!