We’re always told to get enough sleep. Yet, we all have those days where we’re running on empty. Maybe your baby was fussy, or maybe you’re jet-lagged. Or perhaps you just had one too many lattes. Whatever the reason, it happens to the best of us. So how do you survive on little to no sleep? Obviously, it can be tricky. Sleep is needed for your brain to function. Without enough shut-eye, nerve cells can’t communicate.
You’ll also have a hard time focusing on work, school, and daily tasks. Talking to people will feel impossible. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. In order to feel refreshed, the body should go through all the sleep stages.1 If it’s constantly interrupted or cut short, you’ll be yawning the day away. Wondering how to make it through? Follow these do’s and don’ts for surviving on little to no sleep.
The Do’s When You Have No Sleep
1. Drink Lots Of Water
Lots of it. You’re already tired, so why make it worse? Dehydration can bring on fatigue, tiredness, dizziness, and fainting. To stay hydrated, drink water throughout the day.2 If you don’t like the taste of water, add lemon juice or herbs. Infusing water with fruits or cucumber is a great way to add flavor.
2. Soak Up The Sun
While you’re enjoying that water, head outside. Lounge on the patio and enjoy the sun. Getting enough
sunlight will help make serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter. It’ll also normalize your body’s internal clock.3 Talk a walk, if possible. This will get your heart pumping and blood flowing. Otherwise, sit near a sunny window.
3. Take A Nap
To give your brain a boost, take a cat nap. It’s an easy way to reduce sleepiness and fatigue. In fact, all it takes is 5 to 15 minutes to feel better. The cognitive benefits will last up to three hours after. Napping for more than 30 minutes has even longer-lasting benefits. However, 7 to 10 minutes can significantly increase alertness, so it doesn’t take much. To benefit your circadian rhythm, experts recommend napping in the early afternoon.4
4. Drink Caffeine
In moderation, caffeine will stimulate the brain and enhance alertness. Aim for no more than 100 to 200 mg a day. This equals out to 1 to 2 small cups of coffee, or 2 or 3 cups of tea. Since caffeine takes an hour to start working, have it right before a nap. Its effects will last for about 4 to 6 hours.5 To avoid another sleepless night, have your last cup of six hours before bed.6
The Don’ts When You Have No Sleep
1. Don’t Drink Too Much Caffeine
Overdoing the caffeine will work against you. It may cause fast heart rate, high blood pressure, headaches, and dizziness. You’re also more prone to dehydration, stressing the importance of H2O. Again, stick to 100 to 200 milligrams a day. It’s the best way to avoid addiction, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, and more sleepless nights.7
2. Don’t Eat Heavy Meals
Whether or not you’re tired, heavy meals are never a good idea. They’ll just make you feel even drowsier. Now is not the time to catch the “itis.” Throughout the day, avoid refined carbs and greasy foods. Instead, choose healthy fats, whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and veggies. It’ll give you enough nutrients to power through.
3. Don’t Do Risky Activities
Sleep deprivation is a major cause of car accidents and injuries. About 40 percent of adults accidentally fall asleep once a month! This can be dangerous for you and the people nearby.8 When you’re tired, avoid driving, high-energy activities, or heavy machinery. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
While you can survive on little sleep, don’t make it a habit. These tips aren’t meant for the long-term. By getting enough rest, you can live a healthy and happy life.
|↑1||Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.|
|↑2||Don’t Dry Out: Make Sure You Drink Enough Water. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑3||Young, Simon N. “How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs.” Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN 32, no. 6 (2007): 394.|
|↑4||Lovato, Nicole, and Leon Lack. “9 The effects of napping on cognitive functioning.” Progress in brain research 185 (2010): 155.|
|↑5, ↑7||Medicines in my Home: Caffeine and Your Body. Food and Drug Administration.|
|↑6||Drake, Christopher, Timothy Roehrs, John Shambroom, and Thomas Roth. “Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed.” Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine 9, no. 11 (2013): 1195.|
|↑8||What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|