We’ve all been there, we’ve all experienced a bad night’s sleep. To the point where you wake up in the morning feeling like you haven’t sleep at all. It could have been prompted by any one of a number of things. Maybe you had a really busy day, maybe you’ve things on your mind, maybe you’re stressed, or maybe you had too much sleep the night before. Whatever the reason, the result is you feel awful the next day and you wonder how you’re going to make it through to the next night.
The effects of too little sleep on your wellbeing and productivity can be significant. As well as simply feeling grumpy and irritable, it can affect your blood pressure your memory, and it can even increase the risk of serious medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
So what to do if you’re having one of those days? Well here are some tips and tricks to help you make it through.
Get Some Air
If as the day progresses you start to slump and you feel like it’s never ending. Get outside and get some air and stretch your legs, it will give you an all-natural energy boost. A walk allows you time to breathe well, and not only get some fresh air, but to raise your heart rate and find some outside inspiration. If you're sitting all day at a desk, it's even more important to get outdoors during the day. Any time of year is the perfect time to start this habit. This is a strategy that can work whatever the weather, after all there’s no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes.
Have a Healthy Snack
Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day, and we all know it’s important to get the day off to a good start with a good healthy breakfast. But eating is to be advised throughout the day! A breakfast containing complex carbohydrates like porridge is a good choice to keep you going all morning. Protein, such as that contained in a high protein yoghurt, can also keep you feeling fuller and more energised for longer.
A hearty and healthy lunch containing all main food groups will help you to power through the afternoon. By switching up what you have every day and eating in another location, you’ll avoid getting bored of your lunch choices. It will keep you feeling awake and less likely to feel like you need a nap by getting up and going out for lunch, or just another room. Avoid high sugar refined carbohydrates, tempting and all as they are, and energising as they are, you risk a post-sugar crash when it burns off.
Between meals when snacking again try to opt for something healthy and natural like a piece of fruit, a rice cake or popcorn.
We know that exercising improves your sleep if and when you exercise on a regular basis. Sporadic exercise once in a blue moon won’t do you any good. One workout won't make you feel benefits that last, and the next day could even leave you feeling more tired than the day before. But daily exercise will boost your long-term sleep. Whether it’s a group exercise endeavour like a fitness class, or a solitary activity like jogging or even walking, find something that you love and are excited to do a few times a week. This really is key as it you opt for something that you find a real effort to do, it will only be a matter of time before you fall back into old habits and regular exercise falls by the wayside. But keep it up for a couple of weeks and you’ll soon notice the positive impact it has on your mood and energy levels during the day.
If you are even slightly dehydrated, it can have a negative impact on your cognitively ability, your mood, your concentration and your feeling of tiredness. Despite an abundance of liquids to hydrate ourselves with in the western world, many of us are dehydrated. One study found that 75% of Americans were chronically dehydrated. Thirst is the body’s response to dehydration, so if you’re thirsty have a drink. Even 1% dehydration is enough to trigger the body’s thirst response, it’s also enough to trigger fatigue.
We should aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. In warmer weather your naturally more likely to lose hydration through perspiration which means you’ll need to drink more. Exercise can also obviously make you work up a sweat and lose hydration so again, this means you’ll need to drink more to stay hydrated.
Water really is the best choice, all natural without anything added. But other drinks such as milk, tea, coffee and sugar-free drinks also cunt towards keeping you hydrated. Caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee can provide a much needed kickstart to the day. There’s no compelling evidence that drinking coffee has any significant health benefit, but 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day is unlikely to do you any harm. It is recommended to stop drinking coffee and other drinks with high caffeine content at least 6 if not 7 hours before you go to bed. So work back from the time you go to bed to determine when in the day you should have your last coffee.
Alcohol in large quantities can also negatively affect sleep and sleep quality, leaving you feeling tired. REM sleep, an important part of the sleep cycle, is negatively impacted by drinking a lot of alcohol. So whilst alcohol can make you sleep, it doesn’t promote good quality sleep so it’s best avoided in the run up to bed time.
If you’re overweight or even obese, you’re putting excess strain on your body, and that can be tiring. Definitely not a switch you can simply flip, but making it your mission to lose weight if you need to can help you feel more energetic over time. Whilst it might sound easier said than done, through a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise, shedding a few pounds can be a very positive step towards feeling healthier and more energised.