Surviving a Workday on No Sleep

23 July 2021

Surviving work on no sleep is not a pleasurable experience, and it can hurt your mental health at work. We've been over this: it's five in the morning, you've been up since forever, and you'll have to be up in a little over an hour to get ready for another full day at work.

It's not uncommon to have a 2 pm lull once in a while; in fact, it's human nature to have a strong sleep drive between 1 pm and 3 pm due to changes in our circadian rhythm. But suppose you frequently struggle to keep your eyes open while at work. In that case, that's a different situation.

Common Causes

A variety of circumstances can lead to a lack of sleep, many of which are situational and transient:


Whether it's an impending deadline or a disagreement with a loved one, negative emotions and stress can make it harder to fall asleep and might cause you to sleep intermittently. This tension may not be entirely a bad thing since anticipation about an upcoming trip or reliving a positive experience from earlier in the day may also play a role in your quality of sleep.

Children or Pets

According to studies, the adjustment to parenthood is frequently accompanied by fatigue. If you have responsibility for young children or animals, any changes in their sleep patterns, such as a nightmare for kids or a cat's zooming at 3 am, can have a substantial impact on your ability to sleep through the night. Allowing your dog to sleep with you on your bed may affect your sleep.

New Health Issue or Medication

A vast array of health- and medication-related factors can lead to a lack of sleep, from hormonal fluctuations to your degree of pain while lying down and your capacity to breathe easily, among other things. If you have worries about recognized health-related difficulties that keep you from falling or staying asleep, or if you've observed a substantial shift in your ability to sleep soundly and can't pin it down to any transitory reasons, it's time to see your doctor. They may be able to discuss sleep-aid choices with you or manage any possible factors of your insomnia.

What You Can Do To Get Through The Day

Since there is no magic way to fool your brain into believing it got enough rest, there are several things you can do to make the day following a restless night more tolerable.

Do Not Hit Snooze

It's best to merely force yourself out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off, or even better, teach your body to wake up without an alarm. The involvement of timepieces and hourglasses, light, and melatonin shows that many of us have sleeping habits that aren't in tune with our work/social agendas. We should preferably be waking up naturally.

Prioritize Three Things

Consider three activities and tasks at work that needs completion that day, then accomplish them. Put them on a sticky note and attach them to your computer screen. Take a drink of coffee or get up and then go for a brief stroll if your mind wanders or you begin to drift off. Turn off your email and phone so you can concentrate on the work at hand. Then return your focus to the sticky note.

Eat Some Breakfast

Many studies suggest that skipping breakfast is harmful since it can result in higher cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Eating breakfast can also help you feel less tired. Have breakfast within the first hour of getting up to boost your mood and stimulate your brain. Avoid sugary cereals and choose whole grains and protein-rich foods, such as eggs. Also, if you drink coffee, cut back on the sugar.

Easy On The Caffeine

Caffeine is the chosen remedy to drowsiness for many office employees because it is a stimulant that has been scientifically shown to provide an energy boost. Taking a couple of shots of wonderfully robust espresso first thing in the morning to give you that little push is entirely reasonable, and there are some coffee benefits, but overdoing it is not a good idea. It is critical not to abuse it because too much caffeine might cause shakiness.

You should also try to have it in the early part of your day. You'll be exhausted and dragging in the early afternoon, so drink another coffee, but no later than 3 pm, because caffeine lingers in your system for 7 hours, and you wouldn't want to disrupt your following night's sleep. A coffee break near the end of the day may interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep, prolonging a cycle of sleep deprivation and dependency if caffeine.

Power Nap

A power nap to combat the afternoon dip is an incredible force for surviving work on little sleep and boosting your mental wellness at work. However, if you sleep for far too long, you may feel drowsy, and your nightly sleep pattern will bear the burden. A power nap is best taken between 1 pm and 4 pm and should last no more than 30 minutes. Find a peaceful place, get comfortable, and close your eyes; remember to set your phone alarm for half an hour later.

Get Moving

Sitting for extended periods — or simply standing in one spot — can exhaust anyone. During your break, instead of leaning back and relaxing, use it to be active. That could mean strolling around your workplace or doing some basic, workplace-friendly stretches at your desk or some lunges, or if you use a sit-stand desk such as these from FlexiSpot, setting it to notify you when it's time to sit or stand. Standing desks are excellent promoters of movement and activity, keeping you awake, healthy, and productive all at the same time. Get outside if you can, even for a few minutes. That fresh air and sunlight, along with a change of scenery and some movement, could be just what you need to feel revived when you return to your desk. This increases your vitamin D and serotonin levels, which will put you to sleep better later that night.

Try Essential Oils

Mint isn't the only smell that may make you feel better. Citrus and jasmine, like peppermint, can leave you feeling more alert and focused. If permitted in your workplace, you may use a diffuser or apply essential oils to your hands and temples. Read the label carefully because some oils must be diluted before applying to the skin. If you notice that an oil bothers your skin, you can use a few drops on a cotton ball or tissue.

Eat Frequently But Minimally

Maintaining your levels of energy will assist you in enduring work with no sleep. By eating healthy food all through the day, such as granola with yogurt and honey for breakfast, a fruit for a mid-morning snack, and avocado on toast for lunch, another fruit for a mid-afternoon snack, and few carbs and some veggies for dinner, this will steadily transfer energy into your system, keeping you refueled throughout the day. Avoid sugary foods that will yo-yo your energy and make you feel worse overall.


Dehydration has been shown to impair the brain's perceptual-motor performance. It can influence the ability to concentrate, and fighting a lack of focus can be difficult. Dehydration promotes exhaustion even on the best of days, so drinking plenty of fluids not only drains out toxins but also helps you stay more awake. Furthermore, if you are frequently jumping up to use the restroom, the added movement will keep you going throughout the day. 

Hopefully, this has provided you some solid ideas for surviving work on little sleep. Pulling an all-nighter occasionally is unlikely to cause long-term harm. However, if they are occurring more regularly — whether intentionally or unintentionally – consult your doctor. You are not alone if you find it challenging to get through the day without catching enough sleep. However, you have options. Try a handful of these tips to help you combat midday fatigue and increase your productivity.