Can't sleep. How to fight through tomorrow.
September 13, 2010 3:17 AM   Subscribe

It's looking like sleep isn't going to happen tonight and I'm getting really anxious about a big day tomorrow. Any tips on getting through a day like this?

Went to bed at midnight with no problems. Woke up feeling really refreshed, thinking it was maybe 6, 7am...then I look at the clock and see that I've only been asleep for 2 hours. I tried reading a book, drinking milk, closing my eyes and listening to a boring movie, closing my eyes and listening to silence. Nothing worked, now it's 6am and I have to be at work in a few hours to do some special off-site projects downtown all day until about 6:30, grabbing dinner with a friend and going to a concert together at 8. I'm not skipping this concert because I paid 45 dollars for it (stupid ticketmaster) and I also have been looking forward to it for a while.

I don't know what the point of this question is, but I'm really awake right now and I'm really anxious because I know that I'm going to feel the exact opposite of this in 2, 3, 4 hours and it's gonna feel like (and probably look like) there are weights hanging from my eyelids. Besides coffee (which doesn't work for me, anyway) and 5 hour energy drinks which make my stomach feel like its on fire - does anyone have any tips for fighting through a day like this?

Will be going back to bed now, by the way. I just realize that whether I get one or two hours of sleep probably won't make too much of a difference to how shitty I'll feel.
posted by windbox to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Actually, even 30 minutes of sleep after a night like that make a difference for me, so it might work for you. Attitude is a big part of it. Recast your story about your night as "I'm am keyed up and READY for ANYTHING today" instead of "I'm going to feel so shitty all day."

Another thing that might help: micronaps. Try to find 5-10 minute places in your day to close your eyes and rest. It can be on public transport, in the bathroom, in the parking lot in your car. Let your body and mind relax and rest. No worries if you don't sleep.

I would also look to dinner with a friend as an opportunity to recharge. Take it easy. No need to be "on" in a way that drains you.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:43 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't take the energy drinks! You'll just be all hyper and weird and then crash out
posted by Joe Chip at 3:55 AM on September 13, 2010

Response by poster: Yes, as stated, I do not plan on drinking energy drinks. I will probably be sipping on coffee through the day, though I'm not counting on it to keep me awake.
posted by windbox at 4:05 AM on September 13, 2010

In my experience, you'll be okay today, but tomorrow's gonna suck.
posted by milarepa at 4:24 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I take advil for tired headaches. I find it helps a lot.
posted by Salamandrous at 4:32 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I find meditation helps for these occasions.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:32 AM on September 13, 2010

Same way I just did :) You will be fine, you couldn't sleep cos you are so pumped and raring to go, like cocoagirl says. Also agreeing that a chill dinner as downtime will charge your batterys, don't eat heavily though.

I woke BLING at 2am before the first day of a new project, and one of my colleagues had already called in sick the day before. We made it fine. You aren't any tireder than you would be at say 6 in the afternoon of a lazy weekend. Have a great time!
posted by Iteki at 4:35 AM on September 13, 2010

I feel hazy after a sleepless night, but not non-functional. So if you ask me, the answer to "how do I get through this day" is "Just get through it. Go through the motions and enjoy the evening, and you'll have a good day regardless." Just shake off the tiredness when it comes up and allow yourself to be hazy, and realize that you're still having the day you planned to have.

Also, I usually find that 2 days after a sleepless night, not the day after, is the worst. Once you get up from a (mostly) sleepless night you can run on adrenaline and determination for most of the day, but once you've crashed to catch up on sleep you're all out of sorts and low on energy. So maybe you con focus on drawing you reserves today and recovering tomorrow.
posted by Tehhund at 4:44 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with milarepa - today will be bearable but tomorrow is going to hurt. That is when your eyelids will feel weighted. I don't know what it is about the previous night's sleep that is so important, but it really is. Every coach I've had has told me to get a good night's sleep not only the night before competition, but particularly the night before that. YMMV.
posted by hepta at 5:58 AM on September 13, 2010

Response by poster: This is interesting hearing about how the next day is more unbearable then the one after the sleepless night. I can't remember if I've ever experienced it before, but can't I just avoid it by trying to get a good nights sleep tonight?
posted by windbox at 6:30 AM on September 13, 2010

I've found that melatonin helps for the occasional night when I can't get to sleep. It's available over the counter just about anywhere, and it's the same hormone that your body naturally releases to tell itself it's time to get some rest.
posted by jakejake at 6:46 AM on September 13, 2010

but can't I just avoid it by trying to get a good nights sleep tonight?

Not in my experience. The day after sucks no matter what.
posted by milarepa at 6:55 AM on September 13, 2010

Does the concert start right at 8, or is there an opener?

If I were you (and the concert had an opener) I'd rest/nap from 18:30-20:00 and grab a quick dinner with the friend from 20:00-20:30, then go to the show.
posted by cranberrymonger at 7:06 AM on September 13, 2010

I don't find that the next day is more unbearable, at all. My tactic is usually to go to bed as soon as possible the next day (i.e. the day after the sleepless night) in order to make up for as much lost sleep as I can.

I'm a crasher - I'll be OK, OK, OK and then at 4:30 I cannot keep my eyes open. No amount of caffeine or other little tactics work. There is a strong possibility that I will just completely crash out, unless I manage to will power through it somehow. Being in a work environment makes this a little less likely, though I will still feel like crap and not be able to get any productive work done.

But if I go to bed ASAP, I'm fine the next day.
posted by Sara C. at 7:58 AM on September 13, 2010

This is interesting hearing about how the next day is more unbearable then the one after the sleepless night. I can't remember if I've ever experienced it before, but can't I just avoid it by trying to get a good nights sleep tonight?

In my experience there are really two different factors, tiredness (after staying up too late or not getting enough sleep in a single day) and fatigue (after not getting enough sleep for an extended period). Getting a single good night's sleep is enough to avoid being really tired, and really even a few hours of sleep is enough for me personally to be able to make it through the day without being tired. Whereas fatigue is more just feeling sluggish and crappy in general regardless of how much sleep I got that particular day or how long I've stayed up, and it takes a while of consistently getting enough sleep to make it back to feeling normal. Kind of like jet lag. I think sleep debt is involved.

But yeah, if I get a few hours of sleep and have a full day afterwards I mostly feel normal for that day. Possibly at the end of the night I will start getting a weird groggy feeling (rather than a normal tired feeling) the same way I would if I pulled an all-nighter with no sleep. But the next day fatigue sets in.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:33 AM on September 13, 2010

I've found that being sure I drink plenty of water all day helps. What helps me more is eating a bit more than I usually would - my meal of choice is for some reason a cheeseburger. (It's also delicious, heh.) For some reason a greasy burger helps me stay awake and feel less achy/tired. Some people I know just get more tired after eating something heavy though, so YMMV.

I'd avoid booze, though, as it'll probably just make you more sleepy.

Hope you have fun at the concert!
posted by jacquilinala at 9:08 AM on September 13, 2010

this is probably too late now, but have breakfast. In fact, make sure you eat enough and regularly throughout the day.
posted by p1nkdaisy at 11:34 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yerba mate tea works perfectly in such situations. But you have to make it properly.
posted by ivanka at 12:30 PM on September 13, 2010

hey its probably too late now, but i asked a similar question in the past that had some helpful hints. the thread is here:

good luck!
posted by silverstatue at 1:08 PM on September 13, 2010

I'm not sure if you're still looking for advice about this, but I'll offer my 2 cents any way.

I remember a while back, when for the first time, I was going to be having school and work on the same day. That meant that I'd be forced to be awake and focused for nearly the entire day. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get to sleep the prior night. As the hours passed by, I was becoming increasingly anxious and panicky about how unbearable a long day with so little sleep would be; these feelings only made it more difficult to get to sleep, naturally.

Ultimately, I realized that I was feeling perfectly fine just then; it was the horrible outcome I was imagining would come about later in the day that was the problem. So I said to myself, if I'm going to feel horrible for a lack of sleep later on today, then I'll deal with that problem when it comes. But right now I'm feeling just fine, so I'm going to appreciate and savor this moment.

Staying in the moment and just appreciating it dissipated my anxiety completely, and I did manage to fall asleep shortly thereafter. I ended up getting very little sleep, I think less than 2 hours, yet I went through the whole day just as planned. And amazingly enough, even though I was so sure I'd be feeling miserable during the day for having gotten so little sleep, I actually didn't feel too bad at all at any point in the day.

Some outcomes may well turn out bad, of course, but often times the worst of it only comes to pass in our imaginations. I think this quote from Epictetus sums it up nicely:
"It is not death or pain that is to be dreaded, but the fear of pain or death."
posted by Ryogen at 11:18 PM on September 16, 2010

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