We all know we should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per day. But let’s face it: sometimes that task seems impossible.
With busy schedules, new shows to binge, stubborn kids, insomnia, and everything else life throws at you, getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t happen all the time.
Bad news: not getting enough sleep can lead to a cascade of issues the next day (and even the day after that).
You’re likely to experience higher sugar and carb cravings (because your body is looking for quick energy fixes). You may also feel cranky, irritable, moody, and fresh out of patience.
So should you accept the punishment of a crappy tomorrow for not clocking enough snooze time? We don’t think so!
Though we encourage healthy sleep routines, we also know a few tips to help mitigate a night of poor sleep hygiene. And that’s exactly what you’ll learn today.
4 Things To Do When You Don’t Get a Full Night’s Rest
Use these strategies when you wake up with less than 7-8 hours of sleep under your belt. And try not to make this a habit (easier said than done -- especially for parents).
1. Skip Quick Fixes Like Caffeine and Sugar
As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, your body will be on high alert for quick energy sources when you don’t get enough sleep.
Running on low energy levels will make you crave caffeine, sugary drinks, junk food, energy drinks, and other less-than-healthy choices.
But giving in to these cravings will only make things worse.
If you thought your morning crash was bad, the second crash after eating these stimulants will be a nightmare to get over. You may start getting headaches, migraines, and feel completely wiped out.
So as much as you want to reach for a double shot espresso or your favorite sweet pink drink, it’s best to skip the extra caffeine and sugar altogether.
Instead, follow this next tip to replenish some of your energy:
2. Reach for Protein
Since your body is looking for energy, give it the fuel it really needs.
Clean protein sources will help you power through your day without the energy crashes that come from refined carbs, caffeine, and sugar.
Plus, science tells us that skimping on sleep can cause people to eat 300 more average calories the next day [*]. Since protein fills you up and keeps you satiated, you may be less tempted to eat those extra empty calories.
So adding more protein to your meals or grabbing a protein bar make excellent choices when you’re low on sleep.
3. Go For Whole-Food Carbs
Sleep-deprived people also usually crave junk food carbs like pizza, pasta, cookies, and potato chips. But that’s the exact opposite of what your body needs.
Those foods will make you feel bloated and mess with your blood sugar levels. You’ll score a boost in energy as soon as you eat them. But you’ll suffer a harsh landing after the sugar crash and feel more exhausted than before.
Try not to load up on fruit either. Even though it comes with fiber and nutrients, overeating fruit will also dump a lot of sugar into your system and cause similar energy spikes and crashes.
So if you find yourself craving carbs the next day, choose whole food sources like sweet potatoes. And if you really want some fruit, pair it with healthy fats and proteins like those found in nuts, seeds, cheese, and beneficial protein bars.
4. Get Outside and Go for a Walk
We know you probably don’t want to jump into a HIIT workout when you’re sleep-deprived, and that’s okay. But, to feel better, try to at least go for a walk outside.
The fresh air can help wake up your brain and energize your body. The sun can also work its magic to reset your circadian rhythm. Then you may be less likely to let one bad night of sleep spiral into a few.
Spending just 15 minutes outside can boost your mood and may alleviate some of those unwanted symptoms you’re feeling.
A walk before bed can even relax you into a better night’s rest.
We know it sounds too simple to be true, but trust us, it works. Get outside for a few minutes and feel the difference yourself.
Try These 4 Strategies the Next Time You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
Just because you miss your sleep quota one night doesn’t mean you have to suffer the next day. Follow our four easy tips, and you can power through and get back on track.