How to function sort of well the day after a night of broken sleep?
April 25, 2017 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I haven't been sleeping so well recently and am having a hard time being productive during the day, what helps?

Recently, I've been experiencing broken sleep where I'll fall asleep say, at midnight, sleep till 4am, be up for two hours and then doze until my alarm rings. At the moment, I'm mostly working (and at that, only part-time) from home and so it's easy enough to get up, throw on some sweatpants and halfheartedly begin work... which I sort of do, but not very well. The day goes by and I've done half or maybe only a third of the work I wanted to do. Apart from improving my actual sleep, what helps you function during the day when you've had poor sleep the night before?
posted by twill to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'm generally a pretty lousy sleeper so I feel you. For me, the best thing is to always wake up at the same time every day, regardless of when I went to bed or my plans for the day. I wake up at 5:30am every day, like clockwork, whether I went to bed at 9:30pm or 1:30am. Even on days when I've gotten far too little sleep, I'm able to get up and get to work much better if I wake up at my normal 5:30am than if I try to sleep in and make up for the lost sleep.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:03 AM on April 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I drink lots of water and make sure I'm eating nutritious food. Sleep deprivation tends to make me feel dehydrated.

Also, if you do feel hydrated, I recommend breaks for high intensity exercise. Five minutes of calisthenics can help.
posted by crunchy potato at 11:05 AM on April 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

it doesn't help everyone, but a lot of people can get recharged by a short nap.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:06 AM on April 25, 2017

Exercise in the morning is a huge energy booster. You don't need to go to a gym- find a yoga video online that you can do on the floor next to your bed. Even just 10 or 15 minutes will help. You could also go for a walk if you are able- either before work or at lunch. A brisk walk in fresh air is energizing too.
posted by bearette at 11:09 AM on April 25, 2017

Sunshine and exercise before you start working. And if/when you really can't resist the call of sleep, a short (20ish minutes) nap.
posted by rtha at 11:24 AM on April 25, 2017

Lots of liquids and small nutritious snacks help me stay awake.

I have the tendency to drink a lot of caffeine when I've slept poorly, but I find this is ultimately self-sabotaging. It causes me to sleep poorly again the next night, and continue the cycle.

I have found that when working at home, treating it like a job-job as much as possible helps. For me, that's showering and getting dressed instead of working half the day in sweats and PJs. Also, stepping out for lunch, as I would in an office, helps. I find that listening to music or podcasts can be very helpful, but turning on netflix or youtube is deadly.

I find that good "sleep hygiene" (my own term) is really helpful for getting a better night's sleep. This means: making the bedroom as dark and quiet as possible; fresh comfy sheets, fluffed pillows, warm blankets, comfortable sleep clothes; avoiding caffiene, nicotine, sugar after 3pm; turning off all screens 2 hours before the time I want to be asleep. YMMV, of course; this is what helps me.
posted by Cranialtorque at 11:35 AM on April 25, 2017

I also have terrible insomnia and work from home. One thing I try to do is manage my workflow so that I have some flexibility about what type of work I do on sleepless days. When I can, I postpone work that requires lots of brain cells, attention, or creativity. I also try to game my prescription sleep meds-- after two days they don't work the third day, so I will "save" them for days that I know I've really got to be on the ball.
posted by instamatic at 1:48 PM on April 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've had terrible insomnia in my life (currently not as much) and mostly, I just tried to maintain my morning ritual as much as possible -- shower, get dressed, make coffee, eat breakfast, whatever. (I currently work from home and I still try to do this.) I don't drink more coffee than usual and limit it to the morning.

A good mix of protein and (simple) carbs tends to give me the boost to keep working (my post-insomnia days tends to come with some stomach upset so anything I can digest easily works, although I avoid super-sweet things). And hydration really helps. As does getting up and moving around a bit, even if it's just "I am going to go wash the dishes/take out the trash/whatever."

A midafternoon nap can also be a good thing as long as you don't sleep too long.

Now, granted, a lot of these techniques aren't going work long term because few things replace sleep. But I've found this helps me power through the days where I didn't sleep well.
posted by darksong at 4:11 PM on April 25, 2017

Something with protein and healthy fat for breakfast.
posted by blue suede stockings at 7:11 PM on April 25, 2017

My daughter wakes up a lot, so I've had bad sleep for the past decade.

At first I was paralyzed by it, like you are. Many days, virtually nothing useful would get done. Then I read that a common feature of procrastinators is that they wait until they feel like doing something before they start doing it. I recognized myself in that, and realized that it was a choice I could make.

I have by no means returned to perfect productivity, but I now regularly make the choice to Just Do Task. I have to work more ploddingly than I used to. I have to break tasks down into more manageable chunks. I have to reduce distractions. When I'm distracted or interrupted or get the this-is-hard-let's-look-at-the-Internet thoughts, I have to make a conscious decision to go back to doing the hard, unpleasant thing instead.

I have to start, then I have to do. I have to keep making that choice. It rarely feels worthwhile, so I have to make the decision despite my feelings.
posted by clawsoon at 6:57 AM on April 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

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