3 Ways to Beat Sleep Deprivation
Caregiver Warriors come in all sizes and shapes. Although we share the same courage, love and commitment that defines someone who cares for others, we are all completely different and handle things differently.
I know caregivers who–God Bless ’em–hit the bed and are able to sleep the night away throwing zzzzz’s out to the air like there’s no tomorrow.
Then there are those of us who are born to toss and turn all night barely squeaking out an hour or two of rest before we rise with hair sticking out like beetle juice (which we affectionate called my Mom but that’s another blog), stumbling into our day looking like something the cat spit out.
I have always been an insomniac so I brought my sleepless nights with me when I began to care for my Mom and Dad. I thought I was a professional insomniac when I started my Caregiving Warrior role but I soon learned my sleepless nights would bring me up to a whole new level of expertise!
Man, I was tortured…I called my bed the Hell Chamber! I can’t even begin to tell you the thoughts and fears that would run through my mind in the darkness of night. I eventually found all sorts of tools I used to make my “condition” more manageable but that too is another blog.
What I want to share with you here is how I made my day easier and less painful after yet another sleepless night. As I stumbled through my day, I found if I did certain things I felt a little better and was able to actually get things done without too much damage to myself or the world!
Here are three great strategies I used to beat sleep deprivation for the “day after”:
1. Try and relax
The worry and fear that I was feeling all night about not getting enough sleep dissolves a little with the sunlight, but if I let myself get carried away I can really panic that I won’t be able to function during the day and will make massive mistakes. This is just not true. Carrying on about how horrible I feel and how badly the day is going to go is a complete waste of time. I’ve had sleepless nights all of my life, and I have managed for decades (ouch) to go about my life successfully when I’m sleep deprived. We must remind ourselves that all will be well and we will get through the day with flying colors. Positivity makes a big difference. Remind yourself that this is something you have handled before, it will be ok and try to relax about it.
2. Eat like a champion
It’s all about food for me. When I haven’t slept I cannot begin to tell you how visions of sugar plums and carbs float in my head. I crave sugar and chocolate. WRONG! Do not pick up the carbs and sugar. Have a protein-based solid breakfast (eggs, yogurt, etc.,) eat protein, veggies, and fruit during the day and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Coffee is ok first thing and maybe another cup of joe at lunch, but stay away from caffeine of all sorts after noon. Otherwise, you are on a buzz that will torture you later and ruin the next night’s sleep. What you fuel your body with makes a big difference in how fast you can feel better.
3. Take it easy and move slow.
When I’m exhausted I tend to get a bit frantic and try to do everything at once. This can be disastrous. When I calm down, take a deep breath and then a few more, I can slow down and lower my shoulder blades away from my ears. Forcing myself to slow down and take it easy helps me pay attention and concentrate. I try to do one task at a time, tell myself I’m doing great and what I don’t get done today I will get done tomorrow.
Sleep deprivation is never fun, but it doesn’t have to result in having the worst day ever. I always get through it and actually end up being pretty proud of myself and what I accomplish. I don’t wish a sleepless or bad night on anyone, but we all have them (especially Caregiver Warriors) and hopefully these handy tips will make you more comfortable the day after.
What strategies do you use to beat your sleepless night hangover? Let me know in the comments below.
Here’s to sweet dreams tonight and one less sleep deprived day we have to get through.