I’ve talked a lot about the importance of sleep and why to prioritize it, but I realize I haven’t yet covered how to get over a crappy sleep once it happens because let’s face it, it happens. I do my best to set myself up for good sleep, but when there's a loud storm and you've got scared pug on your head ALL NIGHT LONG, it's a bit of a no go.
So based on how I'm feeling today, I've got some recommendations that I've been implementing to recover from a shit-show of a night last night.
- Within 30 minutes of dragging yourself out of bed after your crappy sleep, try to expose yourself to the sun (if it’s out and available). The natural sunlight will help your body register “awake” time, even though it doesn’t feel like being awake.
- Walking outside is an even better idea. Moderate exercise is what you want to aim for today.
- Do yoga with lots of backbends. This is another great moderate movement that will get your blood flowing and help with concentration and focus. Backbends are great for waking you up naturally and should not be practiced after 6 pm for that very reason. Backbends also have anti-depressant benefits, so if you're struggling emotionally, this will help a lot. If you're new to backbands or don't feel comfortable doing poses like wheel, I highly recommend backbend support.
- Drink Yerba Matte tea - I know you probably want to dump your head in a bucket of coffee, but don’t over stimulate. You want to aim for steady energy, not spikes that will lead to a crash. Yerba Matte also has adaptogens that will help your immunity stay strong. It's hard to find this in stores, but Wholefoods or Amazon tends to have it.
- Stay away from sugar - for the same reason above - what goes up, must go down. Stick to pure, organic stevia, which will give you that sweet taste, but not spike insulin.
- Start your day with Eggs or greek yogurt (or both). Protein shakes are great, too. B skip the fruit and high carb options. This will only leave you even more tired an hour later.
- Nap if you can, but not too long. You don’t want to sleep so long that you mess up your sleep rhythm for bedtime.
- Hydrate - I mean, when isn’t that a good idea, but in this case, it’s going to support a steady energy level.
- Make it a write off day - this is not the day for you to crush your goals. This is the day for you to focus what little energy you have on getting through what you need to. Save your superwoman act for another day when you’re well rested.
- NEVER make big decisions when you’re underslept! Your mood is chemically down-regulated when you’re underslept, so your perspective is naturally tainted toward the negative. This is not a good state of mind to be in when you’re thinking about quitting a job or ditching a boyfriend. There’s never been a better time to “sleep on that”.
- Tell the folks around you that you had a bad sleep. Rally support and let them know you’re not going to be on your A-game. People understand this because we’ve all been there. Ask for grace and forgiveness if you feel extra cranky or slow.
- Stay away from people who tend to rub you the wrong way. This is NOT the day to engage in political discussions with opinionated Facebook friends. It will not end well.
- Skip the alcoholic beverages today - they are huge sleep disrupters and you’re planning to have the mother of all sleeps tonight when you crawl under the covers.
- Cancel your plans tonight. Got a date or a commitment? This is a good time to bail. You won’t be great company anyway.
- Go to bed earlier - you can’t do much about missing sleep, but getting an extra hour the following night will really help you bounce back.
- Use melatonin and/or magnesium to help get you to sleep naturally. Both are fine for the body and magnesium has some added benefits for managing stress. Make sure you get good brands like the ones I've suggested!
- Use an eye mask. Preferably one that won't mess up your hair. The darker your space is, the better you will sleep.
- White Eye Pencil on the inside of your lower eyelids will make your eyes seem brighter and less tired.
- Baebody Eye Gel for Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles, and Bags will go a long way to taking that poof out of your eyes!
- Benefit Cosmetic's Ooh La Lift . If you’re old like me, you may find that concealer under your eyes just seems to highlight all your wrinkles, which is not cute. I like this stuff because it brightens without being thick or pasty. Another great brightener is it Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer & Hello Light Liquid Brightener (Fair). It does come with a concealer, but I use that to cover sun spots and keep the brightener for under my eyes.
If all else fails, Snap Chat filters are your friend.
A note about Melatonin
I recently listened to this two-part podcast on sleep. Dr. Michael Breus, the sleep doctor who is being interviewed, talks a lot about the hormone Melatonin - who should have it, when to take it and what the appropriate dose is. You might be shocked to know that most people only need between .5 and 1.5 milligrams (not the 3, 5 or 10-milligram dosages it's sold in). He recommends the brand Natrol because it has pharmaceutical grade ingredients.
When to take Melatonin. He suggests it's best taken 90 minutes before bed as it takes that long to kick in. It’s great for jet lag or for Sunday nights when you’ve shifted your circadian rhythm with a few sleep-ins over the weekend.
Interesting note: at high dosages, it can become a contraceptive so if you’re trying to get pregnant and you’re relying on this hormone to get your zzzz’s, you might want to try something else. PS - please don’t try to use this as a contraceptive. I hope that goes without saying.
So that's what I've got for you today on sleep. It's so critical to get this one right, so I hope you pour your energy into optimizing your sleep so that you're bringing your absolute best every single day. And for those days when it just doesn't work out - I hope these ideas help.
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, low carb recipes, quick home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.