Surviving work on no sleep is not a pleasant experience and it can seriously affect your mental health at work. We’ve all been there, it’s five in the morning, you’ve been awake since goodness knows when and you have to be up in just over an hour to get ready for a busy day in the office.
You’ve tossed and turned, you’ve tried counting furry things, tried the radio, tried watching mindless late-night television. and scrolled through social media for the umpteenth time, and now, as you are finally feeling drowsy, you can hear the dawn chorus starting to flex their voices as the sun starts to slowly rise.
Here at Wellspace we understand what a horrible feeling that is, and what would honestly feel like the best solution would be to switch the alarm clock off, snuggle down and sleep until lunch time.
We also look at ways of how changes in lifestyle can lead to improved sleep and benefit your mental health at work, which you can read more about here, but right now, that’s not your priority. What is a priority is surviving work on no sleep, so if you can, summon up the energy read on!
Top Tips for Surviving on No Sleep
Staying hydrated is key to getting through the day. If you become dehydrated this increases fatigue even on the best days, so by taking on plenty of fluids not only flushes out a build-up of toxins but will help you to stay more alert. Plus, if you are constantly getting up to nip to the loo the extra activity will keep you going through the day!
Don’t Overload on Caffeine
Drinking 8 glasses of water is one thing, drinking 8 coffees in a day is an entirely different matter! Yes, having a couple of shots of deliciously strong espresso first thing to give you that little boost is completely acceptable, and there are certain benefits to coffee that the Italianswill definitely advocate, but overloading is not a great idea! You will end up irritable, jittery and probably not sleeping for another night! Plus, some studies have shown that too much caffeine can have a negative overall effect on your mental health at work and ability to deal with stress.
Learn to Prioritise
Is that report definitely due today? Can a quick phone call be sufficient to postpone a meeting for another day? Do you really need to worry about baking cakes after work with kids for the school fayre? Quick life hack here, buy some cakes and dust with icing sugar to look ‘homemade’.. but don’t give the game away to the competitive parenting brigade. Let them marvel at how well you function off four hours sleep!
Okay so this might sound a bit counter intuitive, but if you can just get yourself to your regular spin class chances are you will come out feeling re-energised. If it is really too much to bare, try some yoga or a gentle swim. This will use up that nervous energy that is keeping you awake and will hopefully leave you feeling more relaxed so you can get a better night’s sleep. Plus it is great for your mental health! We have more tips on exercises to do for an energy boost here.
Sneak a Power Nap
Can you get twenty minutes shut eye somewhere? A power nap to fight off the afternoon slump is an amazing force for surviving work off no sleep and giving your mental health at work a boost! Don’t sleep for too long though, you will end up feeling groggy and it will impact on your night time sleep pattern. The optimum time for a power nap is between 1:00pm and 4:00pm and lasts no longer than 30 minutes. So, find a quiet spot somewhere get comfy and shut your eyes, not forgetting to set your alarm for in half an hour! We have even heard of pregnant women sleeping in their cars at lunch time!
Go For a Walk
Getting out in the fresh air and getting some natural daylight will help elevate your mood, and if the sun is out, even better! This boosts your levels of vitamin D and serotonin, which will help you sleep better when it comes to going to bed later.
Eat Little And Often
Keeping your energy levels topped up will help you in surviving work on no sleep.
By having nutritious meals throughout the day such as porridge with honey for breakfast, and a banana for a snack mid-morning, a light lunch of avocado on toast, followed by another fruit snack such as watermelon mid -afternoon and a small portion of wholemeal pasta and veg for dinner in the evening. This will release energy slowly in to your system, and keep you refuelled during the day. Avoid anything too heavy that will just add to your fatigue and forget sugary snacks that will simply yo-yo your energy and make you feel generally much worse!
Acceptance is Key
So you’ve had a bad night, it happens to all of us and it’s okay to be tired sometimes, just go with it for the day and promise yourself a warm bath and an early night for when you get home. If you get stressed over it during the day, it’s going use up more precious energy on negative emotions. Conserve energy and you will be okay after the odd bad night.
If, however you regularly suffer from lack of sleep, this might mean there is something more underlying and it’s worth consulting your GP to discuss other options. It might be that the lack of sleep is a symptom of poor mental health at work, rather than the cause.
Try to avoid drinking too much alcohol when you are excessively tired, instead of it being a sedative it will only make things far worse, and as for social media, step away from mid-night scrolling! It will simply activate your brain more and the lights on your device will act as a stimulant, preventing quality sleep.
Hopefully this has given you some good ideas about how to survive work off no sleep, if you want to discuss any of the above, or you are interested in how we can help your workplace develop a health and wellbeing culture you can contact us here or call us on 0808 178 0748.
We have a dedicated team of health and wellbeing professionals who can offer lots of ideas and advice on this and many other health related issues and we look forward to hearing from you, hopefully after you’ve had a great night’s sleep!