As much as we would all love to have the optimal eight hours of sleep per night, it's unlikely because we are college students running on a college schedule. This means staying up, pulling all-nighters, relying on naps and the like. With the stress that comes with the college lifestyle, it's likely that students will have a few nights of bad sleep. Sleeping is essential to your cognitive functions, so here are a few tips on getting through the day after a bad night's rest.
1. Stay positive.
This piece of advice sounds like it could apply to any situation in life, but it's true. If you dwell on the fact that you didn't get a good night's rest, then you're going to dampen your mood for the rest of the day. Constantly thinking about the fact that you're tired will only make you more grumpy. Studies have found that positive thinking can improve your health, so keep a positive mindset and your day will turn out just fine!
2. Take a power nap.
If your day allows it, find some time to take a short nap. Depending on how much free time you have, you'll want to aim for a 10-20 minute nap to increase your alertness. Pay attention to the length of time of your nap, because different amounts of napping yield different results. Napping will not only allow you to wake up feeling refreshed, but it will also improve your cognitive performance so that you can carry on with the rest of your day.
3. Stay hydrated.
After a bad night of sleep, your first instinct might be to grab some coffee, but you should also remember to drink water because being dehydrated can actually make you even more tired. Water can work wonders, such as boosting your energy, reducing your stress and keeping you more awake throughout the day. So while a large cup of coffee sounds like a good idea, you might want to opt for a tall glass of water instead. If you want to make your water a little more exciting, try adding some lemons, cucumbers or other fruits to your water for a nice flavor and some nutrients.
4. Go outside.
You'd be surprised at how much natural light can do for you. Find some time during your day to go outside and soak up the sunlight. The optimal time to do this would be in the morning, when you've just woken up and need some light to open up your eyes. Exposing yourself to sunlight will wake up your body and improve your mood by boosting your body's serotonin levels. So go outside, walk to class, sit by a window and use the sun to your advantage.
5. Get moving.
If you're tired from a sleepless night, exercising might be the last thing on your mind. However, a light workout is not a terrible idea because it will end up boosting your energy levels. According to a study at the University of Georgia, researchers found that adults who engaged in a 20 minute light, low-intensity workout ended up feeling more energized afterwards. Their feelings of fatigue decreased by 65 percent! So even though exercising when you're tired and groggy seems like an unattractive idea, just try it out and see how you feel afterward. If you're not in the mood for a full-on workout, going on a walk or light jog outside will still benefit you. If you walk or jog outdoors, you're killing two birds with one stone by being active and soaking up natural sunlight at the same time!
6. Be cautious.
Lack of sleep is bound to slow down or impair our cognitive functions. A study at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research found that lack of sleep impairs your judgement, which can hinder your decision-making abilities. If you have a busy day ahead of yourself, remember to be extra cautious, especially when it comes to driving, crossing the street or making any big decisions.
7. Prioritize your to-do list.
Since you’re most likely going to be feeling tired, don’t overload your to-do list and add on more pressure. Instead, focus on the tasks that you must get done by the end of the day and do them. For example, focus on any important assignments you must get done and leave busy work like checking your email for the next day.
At the end of the day, chances are that you will sleep extremely well after a bad night's rest. So pat yourself on the back for the getting through the day and go get some shut-eye! If you frequently have bad nights of sleep, take a look at this article for tips on how to prepare your body for bed!
Lead Image Credit: Abbie Bernet via Unsplash