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Sleep Disorders

20 July 2019

How to survive the day after a night of terrible sleep

Dreading work after a night of tossing and turning? These tips may make the day after more bearable.

Every person experiences difficulty falling asleep at least a couple of times in their lives. There are many causes of insomnia – many of them fortunately only temporary, like noise disturbances or anxiety.

Disruption of your normal sleep pattern, whether temporary, or chronic, takes its toll on your body and may result in a lack of energy or loss of concentration, turning the next day into a blur.

If you’ve had a bad night, here are some quick tips on how to make the next day more bearable:

1. Don’t hit snooze

Even if you feel tempted to get a bit more shut-eye, it’s best to start your day at the same time to keep your circadian rhythm consistent. When you sleep in, you throw off your daily routine, which may cause you to struggle to fall asleep for a second night in a row.

You also might be tempted to skip your normal morning routine and rush for the door, but a refreshing shower will get your circulation going and make you feel more energised. Even if it’s the last thing you feel like, a bit of an effort may make you feel more focused. If you can, have a quick power nap later in the day.

2. Follow the light

Expose yourself to natural daylight as much as possible as this may improve your serotonin levels and make you feel more energised. If you embark upon the long commute to work while it’s still dark, take a quick walk outside during the day to soak up some much-needed sunlight.

3. Don’t give in to the temptation to snack

A night of disrupted sleep can wreak havoc on your metabolism. Like overeating and not exercising, lack of sleep is another risk factor that contributes to weight gain. Leptin and ghrelin are the two hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness, both of which can be affected by lack of sleep, according to a Health24 article.

The hormone leptin alerts your brain that you’ve had enough to eat, but without enough sleep, your brain produces less leptin and raises ghrelin levels, making you feel hungrier. Your lack of energy during the day can also make you feel like reaching for a sweet pastry instead of a healthy meal. Try having a hearty breakfast such as peanut butter on wholegrain toast.

4. Have caffeine, but don’t overdo it

Coffee is probably what you will be craving after a night of little sleep, and a shot of caffeine will certainly give you a temporary energy boost. It’s important, however, that you have your caffeine kick early in the day to avoid tossing and turning once again.

5. Skip the glass of wine

You’ve made it through the day without nodding off at your desk, and you feel a glass of wine may be a suitable reward. But skipping the alcohol during the evening is probably a good idea if you want a solid night's sleep. While a glass of wine may lull you to sleep, this reaction is often short-lived as alcohol is known to disrupt one's sleep. 

Image credit: iStock

 

Ask the Expert

Sleep disorders expert

Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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