5 Quick and Easy Ways to Cope with a Poor Night's Sleep

Get through the day feeling your best even if you didn't have the perfect 8 hours.

Sleep deprivation is not just for new parents these days. It has actually been named a "public epidemic" by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even those who do not suffer from chronic sleep deprivation face a night or two every now and then in which they do not get their recommended seven to eight hours of sleep.

This article offers some tips on how to get through the day on little sleep.

1. Master the art of power napping

Napping can have tremendous benefits, including increased alertness, better creativity, and greater productivity. A short time spent napping can seem to make up for missed sleep the night before. Sometimes after a nap, however, people report feeling more tired and groggy than when they originally went to sleep. It is therefore crucial to master the art of the power nap. 

Learn the dos and don'ts of the perfect nap, some of which include limiting its duration and being consistent at the time you schedule it. You will feel refreshed and ready to take on the second half of your day, even if you have missed out on some sleep the night before.

2. Reach for healthy food, not junk

Some research demonstrates that there is a correlation with obesity and sleep deprivation, and that lack of sleep alters hormones that control hunger. A lack of energy and time may also contribute to poor food choices.

As a result, if you are sleep deprived, you may be more inclined to reach for foods loaded with sugar and fat, which may only make your fatigue worse.

Instead of grabbing a candy bar, reach for healthier options such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and proteins to give you sustainable energy throughout the day.

3. Stay hydrated

A lack of sleep is not the only cause of fatigue. Dehydration can also make you feel tired, so it is important to drink lots of water, especially when you are running on little sleep. Staying hydrated will help your brain function more optimally. Adding ice to your water can help you feel more awake.

4. Go to bed earlier

While it is important to maintain consistent bedtimes and wake up times, going to bed a little earlier after missing sleep can help you recover from lost sleep and feel better the next day.

5. Move your body

Most people feel the effects of sleep deprivation most acutely in the early afternoon. If sneaking a nap in is not possible, a brisk walk can help shake off that early afternoon fatigue. Any kind of movement can help wake your body up, and stimulate your brain.

These five tips will not take the place of proper sleep as a long-term solution, but can help give you an extra kick for that occasional poor night's sleep.


Banks S, Van Dongen HPA, Maislin G, Dinges DF. (2010). Neurobehavioral dynamics following chronic sleep restriction: dose-response effects of one night for recovery. SLEEP, 33(8):1013–1026.

Breus, M. (2012). The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep. New York: Rodale.

Greenfield, B. (2014). Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health, and Life. USA: Victory Belt Publishing, Inc.

Spiegel K, Tasali E, Penev P, Van Cauter E. (2004). Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite. Ann Intern Med.141:846-50.

Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E. (2004). Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Med1:e62.

Continue Reading