It is estimated that as many as a third of us suffer from insomnia. Sleepless nights can make the next day feel like wading through treacle. You crave sugar, feel bone achingly tired and emotionally raw. Ripping someone’s head off can feel tantalisingly close with feelings of anxiety nipping at your heels.
The good news is that by following a few next day rules you can feel more human and stand a better chance of sleeping at bedtime. Your drives will be strong and willpower weakened so it’s important to follow a few golden rules despite feeling tired and potentially cranky.
Don’t lay in
Often when we wake early hours or struggle to sleep entirely we drop off nearing the time to get up. The tempting thing to do is to turn off the alarm clock and continue snoozing. The problem with this is twofold. You won’t get enough quality sleep to feel rested and if you stay in bed your sleep cycle will be further disrupted. Nobody wants the sleep cycle of a vampire! Get up when your alarm sounds (albeit at a slower pace) You will actually feel better during the day for keeping normal rising hours.
Eat within an hour of rising even if you usually skip breakfast. This is proven to boost mood and brain function. Think protein for energy levels and despite craving the croissant avoid sugary food and processed carbohydrates they will spike your blood sugar and cause the mother of an energy crash later on. Opt for eggs, avocado, wholemeal toast or porridge with nuts and seeds. Keeping your energy reserves stoked with hearty and nutritious fuel will improve your day.
Step into the light
Get outside as much as you can, open the curtains wide and let the sunlight in. Sunlight slows our production of melatonin the sleep hormone and boosts our wake hormone cortisol. In addition, the light sensitive cells in our eyes help regulate our sleep pattern. By stepping into natural daylight for at least 10 minutes tells our body the day has begun and we will naturally work back down to bedtime. If you do not draw the curtains until midday in theory your body won’t feel ready for bed until 4am!
Drink more water
Even mild dehydration causes a drop in blood volume and the heart has to work harder to deliver oxygen and nutrients to our vital organs. This leaves us feeling lethargic, grumpy and negatively effects our focus. Aim to sip your way through 2 litres of water after a bad night and snack on water rich foods such as cucumber, watermelon, celery, green peppers and tomatoes.
If you have opportunity to nap it can improve your staying power after a sleepless night. A few rules are to keep the nap to 10-20 minutes and do not sleep for longer than 30 minutes. Try to close your eyes between 12 and 3pm and it shouldn’t affect your ability to drop off at bed time.
In the spirit of being kind to yourself try a little gentle exercise during the day. A walk, cycle, gentle run or yoga can all energise flagging energy levels. Getting oxygen circulating around the body will really help whilst releasing some feel good hormones into the system.
Be careful with the caffeine
It’s tempting to mainline cups of coffee to counter the effects of a sleepless night. The recommended daily dose is 400mg which is one large or two smaller cups. Try and start your day with coffee if its needed and avoid it after noon. Coffee can stay in your bloodstream for up to 12 hours! Green tea is a good alternative with less caffeine and the benefit of L-Theanine which promotes a relaxed focus.
Aromatherapy can really help with boosting energy and mood during tired days. Peppermint oil has proven in study to improve energy, speed, alertness and memory in study. Rosemary oil is also featured in many studies involving mental alertness. Both can be inhaled directly, decanted onto a tissue or a few drops applied to the skin.