8 Smart Ways To Get Through Your Working Day On Zero Sleep

Zero Sleep

by Alex Davies |
Updated on

From the perfect snacks to when you have that latte, pick yourself up after a sleepless night with your baby

You might always zone out during that finance meeting (not surprising), but staying awake after an hour of sleep is extra difficult. Yep, babies = lack of Zs. And trying to get through your 9-5 on that can make for a really tough day.

So, set yourself up to power through with these smart tips.

1. Eat for energy

The right breakfast is vital. ‘Try scrambled egg on wholemeal toast, which provides long lasting energy because the carbohydrates in wholemeal foods are released slowly,’ says nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed.

And have a balanced lunch– something with protein, carbohydrates and nutrient-rich vegetables or salad.

2. Stretch it out

Wake yourself up before you leave home with a cat stretch to release muscle tension.

‘Make a box position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips,’ says fitness expert Joanna Helcké.

‘Make sure your back is in neutral – with its natural curves but not be too pronounced. Drop your head downwards and let your neck relax. Now draw the whole of your back upwards, tuck your pelvis under and pull gently inwards on your lower abdominals. You should feel the whole of your spine lengthening. Release back into neutral.’

3. Time your coffee

If a double espresso is on the menu, have it between 9.30 and 11.30am.

Recent US research looked at how caffeine interacts with our levels of the alertness hormone cortisol – these peak between 8 and 9am and if you have caffeine then, too, you can develop a tolerance and need even more to get the same boost. So basically, wait until your cortisol is dropping before you pick it back up with a cappuccino.

Wait until your cortisol is dropping before you pick it back up with a cappuccino

‘And make sure you’re well hydrated throughout the day – lack of fluids can often make us feel lethargic,’ says Charlotte. ‘Have a glass or a bottle of water by your desk and sip regularly.’

4. Do tough tasks first

If you know you’re really going to crash later on, get the more challenging jobs on your to-do list out of the way early.

Recent research found we’re at our most productive at 10.01am on a Monday – so if your sleepless night’s been the Sunday, all the better.

Yep, that’s why you struggle to get up off your chair – you’re just that tired...

5. Snack smart

Eating between meals is about timing. ‘When your energy levels start to slump around mid-morning, top them up with natural yoghurt with a handful of nuts,’ says Charlotte. It's energy-dense and high in protein, so keeps you full.

‘Mid-afternoon is often when people have another slump, when energy from lunch has dropped. Have fruit or a few squares of dark chocolate, which is full of antioxidants.’

6. Take a lunchtime walk

A study by a US university revealed a brisk 10-minute walk can boost both our energy and mood – plus, a bit of bracing fresh air (and good old UK weather) is enough to wake anyone up.

7. Freshen up

Run the inside of your wrist under cold water - the skin is thin there so the blood is cooled easily, which can instantly refresh you. Stuck at your desk? Try a head roll to ease tension.

‘Sit tall on your seat with your shoulders back and down, chest lifted and abdominals gently pulled inwards,‘ says Joanna. ‘Drop your head down to one shoulder and let the weight gently stretch your neck. Now let your head and chin drop down to your chest, before rolling your head over to the other shoulder.’

8. Repeat after me…

It may mean saying it under your breath (or risk getting some odd glances from colleagues), but coming up with your own uplifting mantras can help pick you up.

A study by University of North Carolina found positive thoughts and images make us more optimistic about what we can achieve. Say "I am awake and energised" a few times and you'll soon start to believe it.

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