1 – Avoid the temptation to hit snooze
I think at some point or another we’ve all been there – your alarm thoughtfully interrupts your precious sleep time and you find yourself feeling exhausted, confused and definitely not ready to embrace the day just yet. Thankfully, the snooze button is there to delay the drudgery of forging on with your morning routine, but is the extra nine minutes in bed really worth it?
I explore this dilemma a little bit more in my blog, ‘Stop’t hitting snooze – 6 ways to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning’ but to simplify here, basically the more you ignore your alarm, the less effective it is. It also doesn’t help that having a loud noise repeatedly assault your ears every 10 minutes can trigger the release of certain stress hormones. These hormones might make you feel more awake but they also rapidly increase your blood pressure and heart rate – not exactly ideal for your cardiovascular health!
My top tip: If you’re a lifelong addict of the snooze button it might be worth reconsidering your wake-up method. Light alarm clocks are becoming increasingly popular here in the UK and, rather than rudely interrupting your slumber, they gently wake you up over a prolonged period of time so that you don’t immediately jump out of your skin. A much more pleasant wake-up call if you ask me!
2 – Don’t skip breakfast
If you’re sleep deprived in the morning, you might find yourself feeling as though you’re going so slow you might as well be travelling backwards. In these cases, it’s enough just to get showered and dressed on time, never mind managing young children or older relatives. That’s why breakfast often ends up being reduced to a quick bagel en-route to work or a strong cup of black coffee once you’ve arrived.
This definitely isn’t the right way to kick-start the day though, especially if you’re sleep deprived! Not only can eating a nice, healthy breakfast help to support your energy levels, giving you the fuel you need to make it through the rest of the day, it can also go a long way towards balancing your blood glucose levels, which I’ll talk a little bit more about later!
My top tip: The quality of your breakfast really matters so don’t skimp here and opt for pop-tarts or instant porridge. Make sure you’re getting an optimal balance of protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. If the mornings are hectic for you, why not try something that can easily be prepared the night before? Overnight chia pudding or oats are a popular choice here – so long as you’ve got a few of the main ingredients, you can easily prepare the night before and enjoy the next morning, fuss free! Why not try this simple recipe for Dairy Free Fig & Caramel Overnight Oats or Overnight Passion Fruit Chia Pudding?
3 – Stretch your legs
Fatigue isn’t exactly the best inspiration to get out there and stretch your legs but sitting sedentary at your desk all day or collapsed on your couch won’t exactly do much to tackle those pesky sleep deprivation symptoms either. Stretching your legs every now and then, even it’s just a brisk walk to the supermarket or a jaunt around your office building, can do wonders for improving your energy levels by enhancing your circulation, as well as supporting your mood by encouraging the release of happy hormones, such as endorphins.
If you’re spending the day at home, you could try some simple stretches to help get your blood pumping. If you feel as though your mood is really coming under siege, it might be a nice idea to try a yoga or tai chi class. These forms of exercise are gentle and low-impact which is great when you don’t want things to get too intense. They help to stretch your muscles and focus your mind, enhancing your concentration levels whilst relaxing your nervous system, fighting stress and anxiety symptoms.
My top tip: If you can, try to exercise outside early in the morning. Not only does having a brisk walk or jog outside maximise your exposure to vitamin D, it can also increase your production of cortisol, helping to make you feel more awake whilst also supporting your natural sleep cycle. Remember, intensity isn’t the goal here – even if it’s just walking to work or taking your dog for a walk to the local park, it still counts!
4 – Don’t let yourself dehydrate
Lattes, cappuccinos, Americanos and plenty of tea – if you’re sleep deprived, you probably see caffeine as a perfectly acceptable way to power your sleep deprived brain. As I discuss in my blog, ‘How does caffeine really affect your sleep?’ a good cup of coffee isn’t always the answer to fatigue and drowsiness. In fact, caffeine can actually deplete your stores of critical energy-boosting minerals like magnesium and it can even act as a mild diuretic!
This can be extremely problematic as nothing will sap your already dwindling energy levels quite like dehydration and it certainly won’t help to improve your groggy symptoms. If you’re sleep deprived, ideally you want to be drinking plenty of plain water – not only will this help to tackle fluctuating energy levels, it can also give your concentration and mental agility a nice little boost too. Ideally, we should all be aiming to drink between 1.5-2 litres of plain water a day.
My top tip: Plain water isn’t to everyone’s taste which is why sweetened waters are now so popular. However, if you don’t want your water to be polluted with artificial sweeteners and sugars, you could try infusing it with fresh fruit instead! Infuser bottles are incredibly popular and are readily available these days so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting your hands on one. You could also try our Balance Mineral Drink if you really feel your energy levels are flagging as this can help to fight fatigue and balance your fluid levels too!
5 - Keep your blood glucose levels balanced
In my blog, ‘Is your lack of sleep making you overeat?’ I go into quite a bit of detail concerning the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and overeating. Simply put, if you're not getting an adequate amount of sleep, it can disrupt the hormones that regulate your appetite and sense of satiety, making you more likely to crave carb-heavy, sugar-rich snacks during the day.
However, giving into these cravings will not only cause problems with your sleep patterns the following night, it can also play havoc with your blood sugar levels. In the short term, a bar of chocolate or slice of cake might help to fight fatigue but, once this effect wears off, your blood glucose levels will inevitably crash, along with your energy levels. This means that all those annoying groggy symptoms will return with a vengeance and you’ll find yourself once again craving another snack, thus the cycle continues!
That’s why what you eat during the day really matters, especially when that dreaded afternoon slump arrives. Try to avoid binging on sweets and junk food and instead opt for alternatives that won’t upset your blood glucose levels. Fresh fruits, like bananas, can provide a slow, sustainable release of energy while oats, seeds and nuts are all excellent choices here too!
My top tip: Here at A.Vogel we have a range of healthy snack recipes that are definitely worth glancing at if you’re in need of some inspiration! Why not try our chocolaty Orange Boost Balls or our Cherry & Almond Snack Bars? You could even blitz up a creamy, fruity smoothie using one of our recipes from our Three Energy Boosting Smoothies.
6 – Don’t overcomplicate things
If you’re worn out by sleep deprivation, you’re going to want to keep things as simple as possible. Don’t overcomplicate things by taking on additional duties at work or committing to plans later on in the evening. Instead, make a conscious effort to use the ‘no word’ and don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from your spouse to give you a hand with the children or a work colleague. Make sure you have some time set aside for yourself in the evening – as I will soon explain, having this time to yourself is extremely important when it comes to preparing yourself for a better night’s sleep!
My top tip: If you’re sleep deprived then you’re already going to be a bit more susceptible to unhappy emotions like stress or anxiety. You don’t want to compound things by giving yourself a full schedule too! Instead be kind to yourself and try to prioritise your workload – make a list and gradually tick things off one at a time so you can see clearly what you need to do and you know it’s getting done. That way at least you’ll feel as though you’re making some progress!
7 – Prepare yourself for a better night’s sleep
If you’ve already had a poor night’s sleep, you’re going to want to avoid having another the next night! That’s why preparation is key when it comes preventing sleep deprivation in the future, so you can avoid experiencing the symptoms all over again. Firstly, you need to consider what you’re doing in the lead up to bedtime – are you browsing on your phone, tuned into the television or running ragged trying to get last minute tasks done? If so, stop!
The hour before bed should ideally be a time for relaxation. Run yourself a nice warm bath or curl up on a couch with a good book – try to unplug yourself from your devices as these can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Think about where you’re sleeping too – is your bedroom cluttered or is your work laptop stored next to your bed? Try to create a nice, soothing environment so that your bedroom is a place of rest rather than worry.
My top tip: If you do find that your mind is racing before bedtime, it might be a nice idea to try our natural sleep remedy, Dormeasan. Prepared using a blend of Valerian and Hops, Dormeasan gently helps to relax your nervous system, easing troublesome emotions like stress or anxiety so you can achieve a deep, restful sleep.