COPING WITH FEELING WRETCHED FROM SLEEP DEPRIVATION
If you're subject to insomnia you know how awful this one is:
You've got to get up and function on much less sleep than you would have liked - much less than you need. You face the day feeling wretched - there's no better word to describe it - right from the start.
Maybe you've even looked in the mirror and decided you look wretched, too!
"Your hair is the first to know," says Sally, Charlie Brown's little sister in Charles Schulz's "Peanuts."
Here are a few suggestions to help you cope when you're stuck with one of those days.
1. Realize you probably won't die from lack of sleep - [unless, of course you're required to operate dangerous machinery - in which case you actually could die - or cause someone else to die. A car, by the way, is a dangerous machine - mighty dangerous - especially when the driver is sleep deprived. In fact, recent statistics suggest that sleep-deprived drivers are responsible for as many deaths as intoxicated drivers. That's no joke. If you're now sleep deprived - we urge you not to operate dangerous machinery - absolutely do not. Find someone else to do the job. Call in sick, if necessary - do not risk your life or anyone else's. ]
Do make a point of looking both ways before you cross the street. When you're tired it's possible that you might overlook certain precautions that you wouldn't otherwise, ordinarily.
2. When you're sleep deprived, your defenses will most likely be down. And that means that you might do some things you wouldn't under other circumstances - such as, you might be inclined to be rude or curt or tell someone off that it would be better if you didn't - such as your boss. Or, you might be inclined to forget to do something important. You can help yourself by writing things down that you're supposed to remember and you might even write down some good advice to yourself. Like, be extra careful today, because you're so tired.
You probably are somewhat more susceptible to illness when you haven't had adequate sleep. But being aware of this condition can help you avoid sickness. For instance, you can take extra precautions to dress appropriately for the weather - to eat healthy food and to be sure to wash your hands throughout the day - as that's the main way that people infect themselves with germs. In general, you want to be somewhat more cautious.
Maybe you even need to coddle yourself a bit - just to help protect against getting sick. You can also try to program your unconscious mind to guard against sickness. Making certain statements to yourself can be helpful, such as, "I am healthy and I am going to stay healthy - even if I didn't get all the sleep I wanted." Or, "I will be productive today - in spite of my sleep deprivation."
Keep repeating such positive statements to yourself throughout the day.
3. When it's time to get up - take a shower and try to refresh yourself as much as possible. Generously splash cologne all over. Take special care of your skin, applying extra lotions and moisturizers, if appropriate for your skin type. And try to do an especially good job with your make-up. Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast - with protein - like eggs and toast or cottage cheese, yogurt or cereal with milk - to give you a boost of sustained energy.
Don't overdo it with caffeine. A giant dose of coffee cannot make up for your lack of sleep - and it won't make you feel a lot better during the day.
4. You might find that a spurt of vigorous exercise helps get you going when you're sleep-deprived - even though you might not be inclined to do it under the circumstances. But if you can overcome your resistence and get yourself going physically, it can get the blood flowing through your system - which can be surprisingly helpful. For instance, if you climb up some extra flights of stairs, ‘til you're actually winded - you might find that the extra effort revs up your body nicely - making the rest of the day actually easier. Try a fast-paced walk. Or run. Or simply doing a bunch of jumping jacks in place. Or dance and twist about to some lively music.
Getting the blood flowing really makes a difference in how energetic you feel. This can stimulate your system and pep you up nicely - even elevate your mood - and help prevent sickness - though you'll probably feel a bit more tired by the end of the day. At least you know you'll sleep well tonight!
5. When you're tired in the afternoon and have to keep going, there are some things you can do. If at all possible, take a nap - even a short nap will help a great deal - even just fiveminutes of lying down and closing your eyes and being very, very quiet - and telling yourself to relax - will help you. (We recommend even lying down in your office, if you can. Just close the door and lie down on the floor (we hope there's a carpet there but even if there isn't, don't let that stop you - a nap (or a lie-down rest) can be that helpful.)
6. Here's something simple you can do that will give you a real energy boost in the afternoon. Lie on your back and place your feet several inches higher than your head. In other words, if you've got a pillow, take it out from under your head and place it under your feet. Even better, use two pillows. This changes the direction of the blood flow in your body. You only need to do it for about five or ten minutes - no longer. Just close your eyes and relax as you do it - and you'll find it surprisingly refreshing.
7. Here's a self-talk relaxation exercise that can be very helpful: Before you leave the house in the morning to face your busy day, take a few minutes to lie on your bed, on your back - so you're in a nice straight line - not rigid - very relaxed - hands resting by your side. Then, take a good deep breath - nice and deep - and gently blow the air out your pursed lips - very slowly - long and drawn out...
Do it again - take a deep long breath - deeper - and slowly let the air out your pursed lips....
And do it one more time - a good deep breath - and let it out slowly through your lips.
If you're short of time, simply remind yourself to relax your muscles - group by group - from your feet on up your body to your head, while you say to yourself statements like: "I'm now relaxing - I'm allowing my muscles to relax... I'm very relaxed... I'm letting go of my upset and tension... I'm letting go of my stress and tension."
You could also try counting backward from ten - and saying to yourself, "As I count backwards from ten I am relaxing myself fully. When I get to 1 I will be absolutely, totally 100% relaxed.... 10 - I'm starting to relax now - 9 - I'm getting more relaxed now - I'm letting my muscles relax - 8. Every part of me is relaxing now...." etc.
Now, once you're in a state of physical and mental relaxation - and focused on this exercise - you're going to give yourself a pep talk. You can start by saying, "I'm going to have a very good day. Even though I didn't have a good night's sleep, I'm still going to have a good day - I'm going to have a very productive day. I'm going to get all the work done I need to do - and I'm going to enjoy it. Just because I didn't get enough sleep doesn't mean that I can't have a good day - I'm going to have a very good day - even if I didn't get all the sleep I wanted....
I'm not going to get sick; I'm very healthy and I'm going to stay healthy. I'm going to take especially good care of myself today - because I didn't have all the sleep I need. I'm going to watch carefully when I cross the street and I'm going to avoid doing anything dangerous. I'm going to relax and let stress and upset go - so I can have a very productive day. Yes, I'm going to have a very good day...."
And keep going on in this positive vein - talking to yourself like an encouraging, loving parent - while you're in this state of relaxation. Even if you feel simply dreadful - wretched, as we say - you can tell yourself, "Ok - so I feel dreadful - utterly wretched - but I'm not going to give in to that - I'm going to fake it - all day long - and I'm going to do a good job of faking it!..."
When you've said everything you can think of that would be helpful, you can then add a final few lines like, "Ok - now I'm going to get up and start my productive day - without tension and upset - now I'm going to start my truly productive day..."
You could use your counting again, going the other way, from 1 to 10, saying to yourself, "Now when I get to 10 I'm going to be ready to start my productive day... 1, I'm preparing to have a very productive day, 2, I'm getting more and more ready to have a very good, productive day, etc. - ‘til you get to ten.
And with that you'll get up and - hopefully won't trip over the rug, fall and break your arm - and you'll be on your way - and you'll probably have a pretty good and productive day.
We wish you luck!
This concludes our segment on Coping with Sleep Deprivation.
For more information about sleep problems and remedies, go to our segment on 99 REMEDIES. (See navigation bars to the left.)
We also have segments on SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP and USING PRAYER TO HELP YOU.
We wish you a good day.
And Good luck!
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