How To Get Through A Workday On No Sleep


Most of us know the struggle of spending a full day in the office after a night of little-to-no sleep. Blame it on anxiety keeping you up, a successful date keeping you out late or a happy hour with your girlfriends that just never seemed to end. It doesn’t matter how you got there — it just matters how much it truly sucks. But you can make it through the day in one piece if you follow this science-backed advice.

First things first…

Don’t press snooze. If you have any hope of surviving this day, you cannot kick it off with the snooze button. It’s only going to further disrupt your body’s sleep cycle and make you feel even more exhausted. Set your alarm for the latest possible time you can get up, and then get up. End of story.

Take a cooler shower. If you’re someone who typically loves showers that fog the mirror for at least an hour after you’re done, try turning things down a notch. The slight chill will increase your heart rate, sending a a rush of blood through your body (and therefore a better oxygen supply). You’ll certainly feel more awake and alert when you’re toweling off.

Eat a healthy breakfast. How many times has your mother told you not to skip the most important meal of the day? Well, now we’re agreeing with her and adding to the advice: skip the sugary options that lack nutrition. Your body needs some protein, complex carbs, healthy fat and lots of water within an hour of waking up. A donut just isn’t going to cut it.

Get outside. Natural light and a brisk pace are your friends right now. Sunshine will help make you feel more alert, increase your body temperature a bit and adjust your circadian rhythms. So go for a quick walk before your commute (or if your commute is walking, just take advantage). And if you’re hungover, don’t wear your sunglasses even if you want to because your eyes need to see some of the sun’s rays for you to enjoy a nice cognitive boost as well.


When you get to the office…

Grab a cup of coffee. Down the caffeine as soon as you get to your desk so you can maximize the last hour or so of your most alert and productive time of the day. Make sure you drink it at least 30 minutes before any conference call starts, as well if you want to seem at all awake and personable in front of your boss.

Crank through your tough work first. Like we just mentioned, this is the most productive time you’re going to find, so as much as you want to put off more demanding tasks, you really do just need to suck it up and do them. Trust us, you’ll feel relieved after lunch when your energy is dragging but your hard deadlines are met.

Cancel unnecessary meetings. Speaking of dragging, don’t put yourself through any more social interactions than you have to on days like these. No one wants you to lead meetings when you’re crabby AF either. It’s okay to shuffle a few things around so that more of your time is spent at your own desk with your headphones on blasting pump-up tunes.

Snag a sunny seat. Again with the natural lighting, guys. If you can barely keep your eyes open, fluorescent bulbs certainly aren’t doing you any favors. So relocate to a common area if your desk isn’t already located near a window, and borrow as much of the sun’s energy as you can physically manage.


As the afternoon arrives…

Take a walking break. By this point in the day, you’re probably dying for a nap. But let’s be honest, most of us can’t sneak away from work to snooze in the middle of the day. So the second best thing requires leaving your desk, moving your body and getting some fresh air. There’s no way you’ll nod off during this one.

Eat a lighter lunch. Similar to breakfast, don’t reach for all the sugar and simple carbs you’re probably craving. Eat a small, balanced meal like a salad with some grilled chicken and quinoa to keep your blood sugar stable and stay as alert as possible over the next few hours. Sure, it’s boring, but the point is to stay awake, not dig into the best-tasting burger of your life.

Grab a second cup of coffee. Yay, caffeine time again! Power through that 2 p.m. slump that happens even when you do get enough sleep with another little boost. Just cut out the coffee drinking by 3 p.m. so you don’t risk negatively impacting your next night of sleep as well.

Push through that busy work. You already saved the easy stuff for last, so now it’s time to hunker down for the next couple of hours and just get it done. It’s all part of a routine you already know, so it won’t require that much brain power. Just focus on the fact that the finish line is in sight and hopefully your bed will be soon, too.