We’ve all experienced at least one or two nights of bad sleep during our lives, and quite a few experience this problem on a fairly regular basis. Insufficient sleep causes us to be exhausted for a long time and anxious about our day. However, being stressed, leaving work early, or watering ourselves with tons of coffee, are not the best solutions.
There are several methods which were tested and recommended by sleep experts that will help you recover from a bad night’s sleep the morning after. We’ve compiled seven important recommendations for you to help you not only survive but also to cope in a healthy way with the days when fatigue threatens to bring you back to bed.
Although sleeping in seems to be the most obvious thing to do after a restless night of sleep, it is actually the least effective solution. According to Dr. Sonia Ancoli-Israel, director of education at the University of California's Sleep Clinic, the best thing to do after a bad night's sleep is not to change your regular daily habits.
Even after a sleepless night, you have to get up in the morning and overcome the urge to snooze your alarm clock and go back to sleep. Maintaining regular wake-up time, even on weekends, is the key to maintaining the proper functioning of our biological clock. Sleeping in disrupts your circadian rhythm for the rest of the day which might lead you to not being tired when bedtime comes around. This often results in a cycle of poor sleep
If coffee is part of your morning routine, then after a troublesome night of tossing and turning, there’s no problem with having a few sips from a cup of coffee you prepared for yourself after waking up at your usual time. However, when the afternoon arrives, do yourself a favor and don’t have another. Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep specialist from Los Angeles, explains that coffee helps to wake us up when consumed, but its effects don’t last long, and when they dissipate, you may become even more tired.
Start your day with a dose of caffeine, but don’t give in to that second cup midday. Drinking a cup of coffee in the afternoon or evening can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep the next night, and in a 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, it was found that even one dose of caffeine consumed about 6 hours before bedtime, may leave a person awake and prevent one from a good night’s sleep.
After a poor night of sleep, you may wake up craving sugary snacks in order to quickly replenish your energy reserves and forget about the burdening exhaustion you feel. But just as in the case of coffee, sugar also only works its magic on the body for a very short time, and after its effect dissipates, fatigue only increases. So avoid foods that are full of sugar in the morning, and focus on consuming foods that include protein and whole grains, such as scrambled eggs, avocado, or oatmeal. In any case, it is important that in such situations you avoid heavy, large breakfasts that will keep you even more tired the rest of the day.
A nap of a few good hours on the couch during the afternoon or evening sometimes seems like the easiest solution to make up the hours of sleep we missed at night. But if this nap turns into a long sleep, you may wake up even more tired and unable to fall asleep at your actual bedtime.
“You have to be awake a certain amount of time before you are ready to go to bed," says Ancoli-Israel. "When you wake up from a long nap, you start again from zero.” So, if you feel that you need a short nap in the middle of the day, give yourself 25 minutes of sleep, no more, and set an alarm to make sure you wake up in time. If you are at work and can’t nap in the middle of the day, take 25 minutes of refreshment and rest at around 1 pm. This is the best way to restock your energy without affecting your sleep time later that night.
In the middle of the day, when you feel your energy drop and fatigue seep into your body, a little exercise can do wonders. A study in 2017 found that only 10 minutes of exercise, such as walking up and down stairs, increases energy levels in the body more than drinking a carbonated soda or consuming caffeine.
If you want to avoid another sleepless night, you should break away from all the wonders of technology and flickering screens for a while, even an hour or more before you go to sleep. The smartphones, tablets, and even TV screens that most of us are used to sitting in front of late at night shine a light which interferes with the hormones responsible for our sleep, such as melatonin and cortisol. This can be manifested in difficulties falling sleep as well as in quality of sleep, and the night after bad sleep it can be twice as dangerous and unhealthy.
Even if around 7 or 8 pm your body is already begging to slide under the covers and fall into a pleasant sleep, which will compensate for all the lost hours of the night before, try with all your might to refrain yourself, Dr. Breus advises. He goes on to explain that because your body is accustomed to going to bed at a certain time, even if you just go to sleep earlier, you may find yourself lying exhausted and having difficulty falling asleep. Therefore, even on the day after a bad night's sleep, be sure to go to bed at your usual time and not before.