For many people, sleep deprivation is a way of life. For others, it’s simply something that happens now and then. Sleep is extremely important for both mental and physical health, so try to adjust your schedule to get better sleep. In the short term, though, here are some tips for staying alert when you’re feeling exhausted at work.
Moderate Your Caffeine Consumption
A small amount of caffeine can give you an energy boost. Too much, though, and you risk getting the jitters. Try to drink no more than two cups of coffee and finish your last cup several hours before bedtime.
Sugar will give you fast energy, but you’ll crash just as fast. Instead, focus on healthy eating with plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates. If you’re craving sugar, either have a piece of fruit, which won’t make your blood sugar fluctuate as much, or have a small candy bar as dessert.
It’s hard to focus for long periods when you’re tired. To stay alert, build short breaks into your day. Take a walk outside or a quick power nap. You can even combine one of your cups of coffee with your nap for a power boost. Slam a cup of iced coffee and then take a nap of less than 30 minutes. The caffeine will kick in just as you awaken.
Lighten Your Load
If possible, put off making big decisions until you’re caught up on sleep. Focus on your must-do tasks, and put off everything else. Don’t try to multi-task, which is tough under normal circumstances and nearly impossible when you’re sleep-deprived.
Get Back on Track
After work, you may be tempted to try to catch up on sleep. But use moderation, or you could end up in an even worse position. The key is to get no more than two extra hours of sleep. Go to bed no earlier than an hour before you normally do, and get up no more than an hour later. This will help you recover without shifting your sleep cycles. You can do this several nights in a row if you’ve built up a big sleep deficit.
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