What can you do to recover from sleep deprivation quickly?
It’s all very well and good saying that, to recover from sleep deprivation, you just need to get a good night’s sleep, but that’s not exactly helpful if you’ve just woken up feeling exhausted and you now have to summon up the energy to get through the rest of the day. That’s why, here, I’ll be looking at a few simple ways to reduce sleep deprivation symptoms quickly.
1. Let in the light
According to the Sleep Foundation, exposing your body to sunlight in the morning can help to improve your cognitive functions and even support your sleep patterns the following night.1 This information definitely makes a lot of sense – after all, sunlight plays a crucial role in regulating your levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and cortisol, a steroid hormone that promotes feelings of wakefulness.
When your eyes detect sunlight it sends a message to your optic nerve and, from there, to your hypothalamus - the area of your brain that monitors sleep. It then triggers the release of cortisol, making you feel more alert and awake. All good news if you’re sleep deprived! That’s why, rather than hiding away with the curtains closed, throw them open and let in as much light as possible.
My top tip
Are you fed up of constantly snoozing your alarm clock? As it turns out, these types of alarms can actually do more harm than good, immediately jerking us out of a sleep cycle without allowing us to wake up naturally. However, there is now an alternative on the market – a sunrise alarm clock that, rather than shrieking in your ears to wake you up, gently filters artificial sunlight into your room over 30 minutes.
2. Eat an energy-boosting breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or so the old adage goes. There’s definitely some truth to this, though, especially when it comes to your energy levels. One study, looking at 127 healthy medical students in Osaka, found that skipping breakfast was associated with the prevalence of fatigue – not what you need if you’re already exhausted!2
But quality does matter too – if you’re eating your breakfast on-the-go, or are sitting down to a bowl of sugary cereal, then it’s unlikely this is going to help you feel more awake, at least in the long-term. What you really need to sustain healthy energy levels are B vitamins, fibre, lean sources of protein and magnesium. You can find these nutrients in wholegrain options like brown bread, fruits like bananas, or oats.
My top tip
Here at A.Vogel we have a whole host of healthy breakfast recipes you could try for yourself, from healthy banana oat cookies to spiced porridge! Just remember to try and sit down when you do eat breakfast – don’t eat on-the-go as this can affect how your digestive system absorbs all those lovely, energy-boosting nutrients and can lead to problems like bloating or indigestion.
3. Get outside
Feeling tired and groggy? Letting in the light might not be enough so, instead, try to get outside. The fresh air can help to rouse your sleepy body while the exposure to sunlight can increase your body’s production of vitamin D, a nutrient that could potentially help to support your energy levels. This could mean that you walk to work or, alternatively, take a short walk outside during your lunch break.
My top tip
As we will discuss soon, exercise can be a useful way to boost your energy levels and you could take this a step further by working out outdoors. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a light jog or something more vigorous like cycling, exercising outside can really help, not just to fight fatigue, but also to reduce stress and improve your overall mood!
4. Drink plenty of water
If you’re energy levels are at an all-time low, drinking plenty of water is an absolute must! Every single cell in your body needs a good supply of water and, if you’re not drinking enough, expect to experience a range of unpleasant symptoms, from fatigue to dizziness to water retention. Ideally, you should be aiming to drink between 1.5-2l of water a day. If you don’t like the taste of water, don’t worry! You could try infusing it with fruit to help provide a bit of extra flavour!
My top tip
If you’re really struggling to cope with fatigue, or feel as though dehydration could be exacerbating your symptoms, you could try our Balance Mineral Drink. Offering a pleasant, strawberry-flavour, this drink contains a combination of different fatigue-fighting minerals, including vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, zinc and calcium.
5. Take small breaks throughout the day
The majority of us will spend our working day sitting at our desk in front of a computer screen, which isn’t exactly good news if you’re feeling tired. You might find that your concentration wavers, your attention wanders and your head starts to loll. In these cases, rather than sitting for hours at a time, try to get up and walk about. It doesn’t have to be anything too drastic, a simple walk around the building or a couple of minutes outside can make a huge difference when it comes to giving your energy levels a lift.
My top tip
If you’re concerned that getting up and walking around the building will raise too many questions, you could try doing a few simple stretches as your desk. Not only does this, temporarily, take your mind away from work, it can help to remove any muscle aches or stiffness that can arise after sitting for hours in one place.
6. Avoid caffeine after lunch
A cup of coffee first thing in the morning might help you to get out of bed but, if you’re drinking tea or coffee after lunchtime, it can create additional problems. For a start, while caffeine provides an initial burst of energy (just like sugar), this burst doesn’t last and your energy levels will ultimately plummet.
Caffeine also has an additional issue – it can block your absorption of certain nutrients and act as a mild diuretic. This means that all those nutrients your energy levels need – iron, magnesium and vitamin C – aren’t being absorbed properly, plus you’re more at risk of becoming dehydrated!
Finally, caffeine can linger in your body for far longer than you may have initially anticipated. It has an estimated half-life of 5 hours3 which means that that 4pm cuppa could still be in your system at 9pm. However, as bad as this half-life is, if you’re on certain medications then this figure can rise – if, for example, you’re on the contraceptive pill, caffeine may linger in your system for much longer!4
My top tip
Caffeine can come in all shapes and forms – it’s not exclusively limited to tea and coffee. Many energy drinks and fizzy drinks also contain caffeine so it’s worth being savvy about what you’re drinking. I’ve already mentioned our Balance Mineral Drink, but, another alternative we offer is Bambu, our caffeine-free coffee substitute which is prepared using a blend of Turkish figs, malted barley and chicory.
Do you ever find that your energy levels seem to melt away around 3pm in the afternoon? If so, you’re definitely not alone. The mid-afternoon slump is something that we’re all vulnerable too and often it happens as a result of what we’ve eaten at lunch – a sugary or carb-heavy meal can cause our blood glucose levels to drop around this time.
Unfortunately, our answer to the mid-afternoon slump tends to be a packet of biscuits or a cup of tea, which only creates a vicious cycle. Instead, try to prepare for the afternoon slump in advance and consider what you’re snacking on at work carefully. Even if you’re tucking into a low-fat brunch bar, the chances are the sugar content here is still surprisingly high!
My top tip
The best way to know what’s going into your food is to make it yourself. Now, you might be thinking that you really don’t have the time to be faffing about in the kitchen but trust me, there a plenty of super-simple recipes out there that are hassle-free. For example, this recipe for Salted Caramel Bliss Balls takes just 10 minutes! Or, if all else fails, you could always try blitzing up your own Three Energy-Boosting Smoothie for a quick, delicious snack option.
8. Try a low-impact form of exercise
If you’re tired and sleep deprived, exercise is probably the last thing you feel like doing. However, according to experts, it’s the one thing that you should be doing if you’re feeling fatigued. A study conducted by the University of Georgia found that low-impact exercise could help to increase your energy levels.5
The study, which involved 36 participants experiencing persistent fatigue, split the volunteers into three different groups – a no exercise control group, a low-impact aerobic group and a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise group. The groups that exercised regularly for 20 minutes a day experienced a 20% increase in energy levels by the end of the study compared to the control group.
More surprisingly, though, the low-intensity group reported a 65% drop in fatigue symptoms compared to the moderate-intensity group!
My top tip
What are the best types of low exercise to try? Well, the good news is that there’s a huge range of low impact exercises out there, from swimming to tai chi! If you want a more complete list, though, please take a look at our Get Active Advisor Louise’s blog, ‘6 of the best low impact sports’.