If you have ever worked in retail, then you know how hectic the holidays can be for salespeople. Sales floors open early for the holidays, travel for family and shopping for everyone can drive you mad. It can also play a part in interrupting your sleep patterns. Maybe the situation is different for you. I have always functioned pretty decent with limited sleep and it drives my other half crazy how I can do that. So let me share how to feel rested with little sleep.
Prepare for limited sleep. Cut back the caffeine and food intake prior to heading to bed. When you wake up, take a quick cold shower and then a regular shower afterwards. The cold water will wake your body up faster. Do not skip breakfast and pack it full of protein and healthy foods. Avoid the carbohydrate filled donuts, toast, pastries, jelly, etc.
This is how I wake up and feel well rested with only a little amount of sleep. A short version of this post, but if you want more, keep reading.
While I am rarely in this position to have a lack of sleep, other things may create this problem. Sometimes we are sick, or have sick children that we must tend to before we fall asleep. If you have kids, you know exactly what I mean.
Why Less Sleep Sucks
For some reason or another, we all run into times in our life where we have a shortened sleep cycle. One big thing that helps us sleep well at night is regularity. Going to sleep at regular times at night helps us tremendously when we need to be well rested and recharge for the next day. Knowing that you have a shorter night of sleep coming soon is worthy of prepping for.
To get the max benefits of a good nights sleep and feeling well rested, your brain needs to reach REM sleep. REM, Rapid Eye Movement) is where your brain goes into what we commonly call a dream state. Here is where your brain releases hormones and delta waves to get your body to repair tissues, fight off infections and organize your memories. At least, as far as we know. A smaller sleep cycle can interrupt this process and leave you feeling groggy and more tired than usual.
If you normally fall asleep around 10 p.m. and wake around 6 a.m., then you are getting a good solid 8 hours of sleep a night. If you have a reason that you need to get up at 4 a.m., then you need to prepare your body so you do not lose the benefits of a good nights sleep.
Falling asleep at work, or places other than your own home, can be uncomfortable for not only you, but others around you. Prepping for the situation is the best way to get well rested and ready to conquer the day after. If you cannot plan ahead for a short sleep, I will give you some tips later in the article. First, lets cover a planned short sleep and how to get the max benefits from sleep in a short time.
How to Prepare for Getting the Max out of Little Sleep
If your body is used to a solid 8 hours of sleep, then obviously we need to try to maintain that 8 hours of sleep. Going to bed earlier is usually the first response for people that know the next day they need to get up earlier than usual. While this is a great start, that is usually as far as the prep usually goes. If you have tried this before, then you already know this story. You lay in bed either staring at the ceiling or playing on your phone and you normally fall asleep at the same time as you normally do. This is your circadian rhythm at work. You need to trick this rhythm in order to prep accordingly.
If you are waking up a couple hours early, then going to bed a couple hours earlier is a good start. You also need to move everything else up a couple hours as well. Start around lunchtime. Eat your lunch a little earlier, grab your dinner a couple hours earlier, take your shower a couple hours earlier and begin your nighttime ritual a couple hours earlier.
Moving these activities up an hour or two to offset your early wake time helps “hack” your circadian rhythm into staying into the typical daily routine. There is no magic pill that can change that completely, but this helps tremendously. Speaking of pills, it is best to not take sleep medication for a one time short sleep. You can end up sleeping past the time you need to wake up, or the effects wear off prematurely and you end up staring at the ceiling until it is time to get out of bed.
Watch your Stimulant Intake in the Afternoon and Evening
Eating foods before bed and caffeine intake after a specific point can linger in your system preventing you from falling asleep earlier than usual. The goal is to lay in bed earlier and feel tired like usual. Moving your daily routine up to compensate helps, but soft drinks, foods and candies can keep you alert and prevent you from a good nights sleep when you desperately need it.
Cut your coffee by noon and stick with water after 3 p.m. Stimulants like caffeine can last in your system for up to 6 hours and prevent you from going to sleep quickly. Big meals, especially heavy carbohydrate meals, can stay in your system for almost as long and stimulate you enough to prevent you from resting comfortably.
Be sure to eat your meal a few hours before bed. The digestion process can leave you tossing and turning if it was a carb heavy meal or a large meal. Let your body have some time to digest your meal before hitting the sack early. You want to be as comfortable as possible to help fall asleep as quick as possible.
Take a Warm Shower or Bath an Hour Before Heading to Bed
A warm bath or shower can work wonders. It will raise the body temperature causing your muscles to relax and you may even want to fall asleep in the bath! It is important to note that you do not want to get out of a hot shower or bath and immediately hop into bed. I will explain why.
When your body adjusts back to its normal operating temperature, it creates another relaxing feeling. It is tempting to hop under the covers at this time, but let your body return to its regular temperature first. When you get under the covers, the bed covers will trap your body heat. Sleeping in a hotter than normal environment will cause you to toss and turn for a few hours that can prevent the stages of sleep from happening.
Ultimately, you want to reach REM sleep quickly to reap the benefits of sleep. If you are tossing and turning at night, then your body is not getting what it needs from a good nights sleep. It only takes about 90 minutes before you get to this level of sleep and the faster you can get there, the better your sleep will be. More so if you do not have a long time for sleep.
What to do When Waking Up
We have covered what to do BEFORE we get to sleep, but what about when you wake up? You will probably still be a little sleepier than usual and even groggy feeling since you didn’t get a full nights rest.
Start with a warm shower and slowly move it to a cold shower for a couple minutes. The cold water will shock your body into becoming alert and this pushes you into the awakened state of mind. Some people can start with a cold shower, but I have to start warm and then move it slowly to cold. Whatever works best for you, but the ultimate goal is to get your body into that alerted state.
Have a good and healthy breakfast. Put down the donuts and pastries, try some scrambled eggs, bacon and a piece of toast. High sugar and carbohydrate foods can leave you feeling bloated and sleepy. That is the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish!
Grab a cup of coffee. Skip the sugar if you can and go easy on the creamer if its packed with sugars. The caffeine will work to your advantage now and will help keep you awake.
How to feel well rested with little sleep is not difficult. It does require more than one change in your daily routine to get the most out of it. Most people will just go to bed a little sooner than usual, but now that you are informed, you know you gotta start way earlier than that.
Following these steps can also give you a great nights sleep on your regular hours! Avoiding stimulants after a certain time and paying attention to your diet can create wonders for a good nights sleep. If you have never tried these before, it could CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
A great nights sleep improves your physical health, mental health and overall well being. Happy people, tend to get great sleep at night. You spend 30% of your life asleep, why not get the most out of it?