How to fake a good night’s sleep
A big dose of sunshine is the first thing you’ll want to try. “Natural light resets your body clock, helping you function better all day,” Walsleben says. “Even the low light on a cloudy or rainy day wakes you up better than any indoor bulb.” Early-morning sunlight is best for helping you start the day feeling rejuvenated. To perk up fast, open your shades as soon as you get up.
“When we’re tired, our instinct is to reach for sugary foods for a quick rush,” says Samantha Heller, R.D., clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Connecticut. “But those foods make your blood sugar spike and crash, setting off a roller coaster of energy highs and lows.” For lasting energy, start your day with healthy protein and whole-grain carbs, Heller says. Try a whole-wheat English muffin with peanut butter and a sliced banana.
The ideal remedy for the mental fatigue that occurs after sleep loss is an afternoon nap, says Matthew Edlund, M.D., author of The Power of Rest. But since that’s not possible for most people with jobs, the next best thing is a form of active rest called “paradoxical relaxation.” Edlund explains: Focus on one muscle group in your body for at least 15 seconds, concentrating only on how it feels and nothing else. Repeat up and down the body. Surprise — —you feel recharged.
No need to gulp down that morning brew: Pour it into a thermos and sip slowly enough to make it last most of the workday. People who consumed the caffeine equivalent of just 2 ounces of coffee per hour still got a kick, according to a study in the journal Sleep. Just cut off the java by 3 p.m., or you may have trouble falling asleep that night.
The time of day when the sleep deprived drag the most is between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., says Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan. If you find yourself yawning through afternoon meetings, try stepping out for a 10-minute walk. “Movement boosts core temperature and stimulates the heart, brain, and muscles, preventing a slump,” Breus says. Even pacing around your office will help kick your body back into gear.
As tempting as it is to crash at 8 p.m. the evening following a rough night’s sleep, you’ll feel most refreshed if you hit the sack close to your usual bedtime.
“Our bodies have a natural rhythm of sleep and wake — —you’ll get the most restorative sleep if you stick to that pattern,” says Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., a New York City–based clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders. “Changing your schedule to make up for lost sleep can actually lead to other problems, like early waking and even insomnia.”