Not Getting Enough Sleep? How to Keep Your Energy Levels Up

Though you may have tried to fit a full eight hours of sleep into your schedule, those nights of tossing and turning, getting up multiple times from your bed, and failing to fall into a deep sleep are still bound to happen every once in a while. But, there’s no need to panic — you may have to appear well-rested for that important meeting even if you didn’t get the required sleep the night before, and there are a few ways to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.

So, what can you do to get through your day (or two) without chugging as many pots of coffee as possible? We have a few ideas for you to try.

Feel the sunshine

Midtown Manhattan skyline

Get out into the sun. | iStock.com/Ultima_Gaina

Sunshine may help you more than you think — and it may be one of the easiest antidotes to access while you’re getting ready in the morning. Clete Kushida, M.D. and sleep specialist, tells Everyday Health standing in bright sunlight really helps the brain wake up. The circadian pacemaker, also known as the nucleus in the brain that adjusts your sleep-wake cycles, is influenced by the sunlight. The morning light can help sync the nucleus, helping your brain awaken and function more effectively. Open your shades as soon as you wake up in the morning to reap these benefits, or better yet, go for a half-hour walk before you start your day.

Fuel your body

Farro, a type of whole grain

Farro, a type of whole grain, should be incorporated into your diet. | iStock.com

It’s also important to start your day off with a nice dose of healthy proteins and whole-grain carbs. According to Health, your instinct after a poor night’s sleep is to reach for sugary foods to provide you with the energy that you’re missing. However, those sugary foods will provide you with a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a crash, leaving you feeling more worn out than you were to begin with. For a dose of lasting energy, try eating some almonds when you wake up in the morning. The Huff Post Canada claims that unsalted, raw almonds are great for balancing blood sugar levels as well as fueling you with necessary proteins and fats.

Take a nap

man sleeping

Take a nap to boost your energy. | iStock.com

Another way to lift your energy after a night of little sleep is to find a bit of time — even 10 minutes — to take a short nap. New York Magazine’s Science of Us says that if you can find time away from your busy schedule to quickly nap, it can really help your brain function better throughout the rest of your day. You should aim to keep the nap somewhat brief, however. According to WebMD, a nap longer than 45 minutes can make you groggy afterward, as you’ll be waking from a deeper sleep. Aim to keep your nap around 20 minutes to improve brain function and not fall into a half-asleep lull once you wake up.

Drink up

Woman's Hand Pouring Fresh Pure Water From Pitcher

Staying hydrated will help. | iStock.com/puhhha

Don’t forget to stay hydrated — Medical Daily says you should be drinking water from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. If you’re having a hard time drinking enough water, you can also incorporate some foods with a high water content into your diet. Iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, green peppers, watermelons, and baby carrots are all over 90% water, making them great additions to your diet on your most sleep-deprived days. An easy way to check if you’re hydrated is to take a look at your urine — the darker your urine, the more likely you are to be dehydrated.

Get moving

Fit women doing exercises stretching hamstrings lifting legs

Don’t forget to exercise. | iStock.com/undrey

Finally, though working out may be the last thing on your mind when you’re exhausted, getting physical exercise will have a stimulating effect on your body. Even taking a brisk walk can help your brain — when you move your body, your muscles send messages to the central mechanism of the brain, making you more alert than you were previously. It doesn’t have to be anything too taxing — even holding a good conversation can improve alertness, so staying engaged in any sort of activity, strenuous or otherwise, can keep you going. Just be careful to not do too much physical activity before bed, as this can impair your ability to get a good night’s sleep.