Six healthy ways to cope with tiredness – that work!

by Ali on April 28, 2008

Yesterday (Sunday), I was woken up at five-thirty am by our neighbours (again) having a row. After being disturbed by the same neighbours at two am the previous night, and after a busy week of late nights, I was rather tired and moody for most of the day….

Short of moving house, what can you do about a lack of sleep? I’m not thinking about insomnia here, though that can be a huge health issue for many people, but temporary lack of sleep caused by overwork, stress, or disturbances in the night. This is especially difficult when you have to drag yourself into the office…

These all help to deal with that zombified, groggy feeling:

  • Eat a good breakfast for sustained energy. I must confess I didn’t manage this on Sunday – I did start with a bowl of fruit salad, but followed that with a large Danish pastry, then a mini-muffin for elevenses…
  • Get some (gentle) exercise. By the time we’d walked to Church, I was feeling rather more alive. If it’s a weekday, try getting off the bus or tube a couple of stops early, and walking briskly for a few minutes – it’ll give you the kickstart you need to begin the working day.
  • Have a short nap. I was sleepy when we got home, and though I wanted to plough with my “to do” list, I knew I’d be in a much happier mood after a nap. I snoozed for half an hour before lunch, and felt much better for it. Many people find napping for more than 20-30 minutes leaves them even groggier, so you might want to set an alarm. Unless you have a very understanding boss, however, this may be a tricky one to manage on a weekday – try sloping off somewhere quiet in your lunch-hour.
  • Prepare something light and healthy for lunch. I was very tempted to make nachos, but knew that a large helping of tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream wasn’t going to help me stay awake in the afternoon. One good options is a big fresh salad, and wholegrain bread or crispbreads with ham.
  • Take things slowly. It’s much easier to make mistakes when you’re tired, or to feel overwhelmed. Don’t try to rush yourself, and stop for a break if you can’t concentrate.
  • Go easy on the caffeine. After a cup of tea with breakfast, then two more at Church (more tea than I usually drink in a whole day), I’d perked up considerably. Half an hour later, I felt tired and drained again – the caffeine crash. It’s much better to drink plenty of water, and to space out cups of tea or coffee.

Try to keep your thoughts positive, as well (though I know this is far easier said than done.) Spending the day telling yourself “I’ll never get anything done,” or complaining to your colleagues about how few hours’ sleep you had, will only put you in a worse mood. Use tiredness as a good excuse to let yourself relax and do something fun; watch an old film, read a “trashy” novel, or buy yourself a magazine.

Then make sure you unwind in the evening, and get a well deserved early night!

(Image above by jakobtischler)

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