6 Ways To Feel More Energized The Morning After A Sleepless Night

Photographed by Michael Beckert.
There's a very particular type of dread that comes with trying to fall asleep at night. Not only are you counting the hours that you'll actually get to rest, but you know that the later (or earlier) it gets, the more exhausted you'll be the next day. It's a vicious cycle, and many of us are left to figure out how to feel less like a zombie afterwards.
To be clear, if you are someone who suffers from chronic insomnia, and you're unable to sleep most nights, it's worth it to talk to a doctor who can suggest treatments that may help. But if you just had one terrible night — because you're PMSing or daylight saving time screwed you up — then there are tactics that can help you get through the day.
Ahead, Raj Dasgupta, MD, FAASM, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, explains what to do to survive the morning after a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad night.
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Don't hit snooze.

Chances are you're going to want to sleep in, but Dr. Dasgupta says you should resist the temptation to hit snooze. "The snooze button is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get," he says. Each time you hit the snooze button, you may fall back asleep, and end up in a deeper stage of REM sleep, which will make you groggier, he says.

Be mindful of how often you use snooze in general, Dr. Dasgupta says. "Sometimes, by hitting snooze regardless of how much sleep you’re getting, that could be a bandage disguised as an underlying sleep disorder," he says. "If you got your required amount of sleep, you shouldn’t be looking for that snooze button."
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Go easy on caffeine.

While you may feel the need to chug all the coffee, Dr. Dasgupta says it's important not to over-caffeinate when you're sleep deprived. "Caffeine is something that will give you that alerting type of feeling when you take it, but there's always a threshold," he says. "[If] you drink too much too quickly, you’ll get all the side effects of caffeine and not the benefits of being alert." For example, you may feel jittery or get headaches, he says. Remember that it takes a bit (around 20 minutes) for caffeine to kick in, so you should wait to see how you feel before going for another cup.
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Consider a nap.

Sometimes when you feel sleepy during the day, the best thing you can do is take a nap, Dr. Dasgupta says. But be strategic: It's best to nap around lunchtime, and only sleep for 20 minutes or less, he says. And if you're someone who has chronic insomnia, Dr. Dasgupta says it's probably not a good idea to take naps in the middle of the day, because it can interfere with your sleep at night.
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Take a break from your phone.

It may feel like you only have the brainpower to scroll through Instagram and Twitter when you're tired, but that's probably the last thing you need, Dr. Dasgupta says. "There are other things you can do with that energy, and you only have a limited amount when you're sleep deprived," he says. So, use your phone and computer sparingly, and try not to get wrapped up in whatever's happening on Twitter.
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Tackle hard stuff early.

Don't wait until later in the day to start a tough project in hopes you'll be awake by then. "If I know I’m going to be sleep deprived during the day, a common sense thing for me to say is, do the difficult tasks that you have upfront," he says. Later in the afternoon, you'll actually experience a dip in your circadian rhythm (meaning you'll feel more tired), so you may be sluggish or less alert, he says. It's better to check the tough tasks off your to-do list in the morning, so you can be as sharp as possible.
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Try to be happy.

It's easy to feel like every single annoyance throughout the day has to do with the fact that you didn't sleep well the night before, but the truth is you can't blame everything on sleep deprivation, Dr. Dasgupta says. "Sometimes it could be other things," he says. Yes, when you're tired, you may feel more irritable. But instead of letting your irritability and sleep deprivation cloud your judgement, make an effort to think and be a little more positive, he says. In other words, fake it until you make it.