How to survive a day without enough sleep
Some sleepless nights are unavoidable and I'm sure you see that you're not quite on your game the next day. The cold, hard truth is that you absolutely need, and sleep researchers could not stress this enough, at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function like a human being is supposed to function. But there are ways you can structure your day for when you skip out on a full night's rest so you can still make it through the day and even be productive.
First off, do NOT hit that snooze button. You're just teasing yourself! Orfeu Buxton, a professor in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School explains that those ten extra minutes won't contribute to restorative sleep nor will it help you be more alert. Your best option is to set your alarm to the latest possible moment and force your way up and out of bed.
Next is breakfast. Research suggests it's crucial to eat it within an hour of waking up. It acts as a mood booster and improves cognitive performance for the first half of your day. But that doesn't mean you should just shove any breakfast item in your face. Stay away from sugary things and simple carbs because the sugar and insulin spike is going to cause a crash, which will only worsen your sleepiness. Take in some whole grains, fruit, protein, and some coffee to help clear that sleep inertia fog.
Speaking of coffee, your body may take up to 30 minutes to start feeling the effects of caffeine, so you may wanna be taking in your java earlier in the AM than you think. And you should also space out your caffeine intake throughout the day and try not to consume more than 4 cups of coffee.
Now, you may want to put off tougher tasks and creative work to later on in the day in hopes that you'll be more awake then. Unfortunately, that's not the case because if you're sleep deprived, you're actually the most alert within three hours of waking up for the day. I know, that's a super small time frame to try to complete your crucial tasks, but get it out of the way first or else you'll just end up doing mindless busy work all day that will make you sleepier and sleepier. It's just a vicious cycle.
Don't forget to have a light lunch, again try to stick to the healthy options like veggies and lean protein. And this would also be a good time for your caffeine boost since the afternoon is the drowsiest time in a workday. It'll also help if you take a step outside. Sean Drummond, a psychiatrist at UC San Diego, says that sunlight and fresh air will help clear up the haze so you can make it through the final stretch.