Nine Steps to Surviving Your Day After Losing a Good Night’s Sleep

Updated on June 18, 2017

The's Morning Already!


Oh, NO!

Well, it’s happened again. Your alarm is sounding, your eyes are bloodshot, your brain is fighting a metaphorical fog, and you’ve got to get up and function all day after getting no sleep last night. Going about your day—whether you have to be at work, care for your kids, run errands, or all of the above—after getting no sleep is both physically and emotionally painful. It’s happened to all of us at some point, and it’s a near guarantee that your upcoming day is about to unfold very painfully. It matters not if you have work in an hour, or if you’re about to travel all day to start a vacation, or if you’re home with a young child… you can bet your senses will be slower, your patience will be thinner, and your tolerance for life’s unexpected daily “joys” will present a monumental challenge until you fall back in bed tonight to try again to sleep. Below are nine things that can help.

Step #1

Don’t dwell on why you got no sleep last night because it will only make you resent who or whatever is the source of your pain. A snoring spouse, a double shift, a crying baby, or even more annoyingly common - your mind simply wouldn’t power down for the night…it doesn’t matter. You’re now in crisis mode because you don’t have the option of pulling the covers over your head and trying to snag some restful sleep…your time is up. Don’t panic about how you’re going to survive this day. Instead, take things one step at a time. Don’t just lay there frustrated, start by sitting up and canceling your alarm. Important: don’t use the snooze button feature or else you’ll just feel exactly as you do now in 9 minutes time and you’ll fall further behind on your schedule.

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Step #2

Take things as slow as your timeframe allows. If you have to clock in five minutes from now, sorry friend, but move it and try to make it on time, safely. It’s harder to suffer uninterrupted when your manager is justifiably frustrated at you for being late so run, run! If possible, phone ahead to tell your boss you’re running late. I don’t suggest lying that your alarm didn’t go off…but it’s your call. Otherwise, count your blessings that you don’t have to hustle and get out of bed to find your way to the kitchen.


Quick Fuel for the Day.

  • Piece of fruit and some trail mix
  • Glass of milk and a granola bar
  • 1 egg (microwaved 60 sec.) on a piece of whole grain toast

Step #3

Don’t skip breakfast. No matter what time of day you need to be “up and at ‘em,” you need fuel if this time awake is going to go in the right direction. No time for a full meal? Grab some protein (a banana with some peanut butter is fast) and perhaps consider brewing some coffee, tea, or even taking along a tall glass of skim milk. When all else fails, hit a gas station or fast food drive-thru for some sustenance. Whether you eat at home or on the go, don’t wolf it down. Your entire system is extra sensitive on no sleep. Sip your hot beverage in the car (this also avoids burning your tongue in a rush). Nibble your granola bar while you dress. Don’t upset your stomach further by shocking it awake. Note: if the idea of eating or drinking makes you queasy, go for a tall glass of tap water (70%) and add in some refrigerated fruit juice (30%) to re-hydrate fast while making your body more receptive to fluids. Then lean toward a carbohydrate like toast or dry cereal to settle your stomach (eggs are not your friend today).

Step #4

Keep it moving. Don’t sit too long eating your breakfast. It’s possible you could fall asleep at the table or simply lose all motivation to continue getting ready for the day. Put on some music to help you realize you can and will get through today. Music can ignite your determination to persevere just like when you work out. If time allows, step in the shower to wake up your senses. Lather with an uplifting fragranced body wash or face scrub. It can improve your mood and your energy level. Check your local news as you pack for the day. It’s frustrating enough you have to be awake today…don’t incur further frustration being completely unaware of the impending downpour outside.


Step #5

Dress to impress. Remember going to class in your PJs or sweats? Odds are you didn’t have a very productive day back then and it holds true today. Select an outfit that’s a little nicer, but still comfortable. It will help keep you focused, cheer you up when you pass a mirror (if you don’t feel great, at least you look sharp), and remind you that you can handle today no matter what. Plus if someone compliments your clothes, it’ll make you feel good. Consider comfortable shoes today (at least for your commute) so you don’t have to fight against sore feet…you have enough to fight today. If, by chance, you have a new shirt or slacks you’ve been saving, wear them today to rejuvenate your look.

Step #6

Don’t skimp on yourself today. Thanks to the nature of your situation, odds are you didn’t oversleep and therefore have plenty of time to get yourself ready. Be sure to style or at least brush your hair. Apply your make-up. If you’re too tired, at least put some concealer under those eyes and some blush on your cheeks. Consider one of those anti-puff eye rollers available at most pharmacies in the Health & Beauty section. It’s a great façade when, on the inside, you feel like you’ve been “through the wringer.” Brush your teeth and use minty mouth wash…it helps waken your senses. Bring some mouth wash along for after you finish your coffee or tea. Take your multi-vitamin…you’re gonna need it today. Consider some orange juice with your lunch today to keep your immunity up. Remember there’s a good reason you’re in pain. Pamper yourself as much as you can by keeping your routine in check and treating yourself with care.

Step #7

Go easy on yourself. If you have a lot to carry to your car this morning, make more than one trip. You’ll be quick to anger if you drop that much needed travel mug or today’s presentation file. Use a messenger bag or briefcase if you need more help with your things than usual. Take a quick look around the house before you leave to be sure you have the items you can’t succeed today without. If you’re on the highway without a lunch, you can get a quick sandwich somewhere. But if you’ve left your company laptop on the counter, you’ll have to double back. Relax in the car; perhaps turn on the radio. Celebrate that you’re on your way and focus on making the most of the time you have, whatever’s on your agenda. If you do realize, when you get where you’re going, that you forgot something at home, don’t beat yourself up. See if you can bring it another day, or stay calm as you go back to retrieve it…we all make mistakes.

Step #8

Be kind to others. Remember, whoever you interact with today is probably not to blame for you losing sleep last night. So be extra polite…as you’re commuting to your destinations, as you answer your phone, as you get through your meetings, etc. It’s too easy to be grumpy to all you encounter these next 8-12 hours. Just because you’re tired doesn’t give you justification to be a jerk. Don’t project your pain onto others. Stay out of the way or behind the scenes when you can’t be congenial, as is understandable when you’re sleep deprived. Think out what you’re about to say before you utter it aloud to be sure it’s not snippy or flat out rude. You can also confide in others ahead of time, “Hey, I apologize, but I’m a little off today from lack of sleep…” Again, we’ve all been there…those around you will understand and keep it in mind.

Step #9

Celebrate all victories! Every step of the way today, celebrate whatever you accomplish (but not with a nap; you may not wake up). You did get out of bed; make your coffee into a mocha. You are dressed and fed; take an extra minute in the shower to soak under the hot water. You made it to work/school on time; park closer to the door for added convenience. You didn't honk at that driver who cut you off; take a stroll on your lunch break. You will get yourself through your day and celebrate tonight with a hot date with your pillow and blankets. Odds are you’ll have no trouble falling asleep tonight.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Congrats on HOTD, great hub! Not getting enough sleep definitely impacts your immune system so getting breakfast and vitamins in is a must! And looking your best even if you don't feel your best is certainly going to help. And I really like the last two points on not being too hard on yourself and others. It's not worth hurting relationships due to being in a bad mood and it's a fact that without sleep you don't function as efficiently and as long as you are trying your best that is what matters. And on a day when you haven't had enough sleep your best isn't going to as good as a day when you are rested and you just have to accept that.

    • Zainab Tarawali profile image

      Musu Bangura 

      6 years ago from Nation's Capital

      It's bad enough that I'm not a morning person to begin with, so when I don't get sleep the night before it feels like I'm spending the entire day dragging myself through mud. I'm definitely sharing this article. Thanks for the info and voted up!

    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 

      6 years ago from County Durham

      I enjoyed this article. An unusual subject, but something we all have to deal with at some time in our lives. Excellent tips to keep in mind.

    • Alexia Britannica profile image

      Alexia Britannica 

      6 years ago from USA

      I just enjoyed your writing. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Maria Giunta 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Oh the dreaded sleepless night. I used to sleep like a log but for some reason in the last year things have changed. My life is full with work, family, etc but this has been the case for years. Not really sure why I've suddenly developed insomnia but these tips might help. I'll give them a try. Congrats on HOD, well deserved.

    • theBAT profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes its true. Lack of sleep and being tired does not give us an excuse to be a jerk. We really need to be nice to people no matter what. What we give is what we get in return. Thanks for sharing.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      There was a period of time before I retired when insomnia kept me awake until the wee hours several nights a week--never on a weekend night, but before a work day. I tried numerous tips--both for going to sleep and for managing to function on a day after no or little sleep. More than a few of those days were miserable, but my job did not allow me to cut myself any slack.

      It's ironic, but now that the alarm clock is not in charge of my mornings, I never have trouble going to sleep at night. I think a major factor may be that my job was inherently stressful, while retirement (even though I stay busy) is not.

      Voted Up++


    • dembiczak profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Many thanks for reading and commenting!! Yeah, no matter what the cause...a night of sleep lost is sooooooooooooo painful!

    • Lyndsay Gamber profile image

      Lyndsay Gamber 

      6 years ago from California

      This is really great! I often don't get very much sleep and there are some really cool tips in here that I would have never thought of! Thanks for posting this and I am sure to use some of these soon! =) voted up!

    • JessBraz profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      Very nice hub! I've seen a lot of hubs about how to get a good night's sleep- but never one with this angle before.. Cheers on the original idea!

      Very well written. :)

      I suffered this fate a few days ago, actually.. but it was entirely my own doing. I have to be up and out of bed for 5:00 am to be at work for 6:30.. I stayed up waaayyy later than I normally do the night before and paid for it the next morning.. I cheated though, I gave up and called in sick and slept all day. That's an awful habit to get into, which is why I try to refrain from doing that as much as possible. The clocks go ahead next week, so the sun is slowly making it's way back to us! (Yay!) It's much easier to force myself out of bed when the sun is starting to come out..

      Voted up and across!



    • dembiczak profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      I have 2 young kids, work full time, have 2 dogs and a house to run. But your story sounds just as exhausting. I find nothing more frustrating than not being able to fall asleep when I can't keep my eyes open. The worst was this past week when I was losing my fight with a cold while my 5 year old was also sick. OMG...I felt like doggy poo. Thanks for commenting!

    • dembiczak profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      I'm the same...near monstrous when I don't get sleep. I thought some others might find the tips I use of assistance! Thanks for commenting.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congrats on HOTD! Some excellent points, here!

      I'm with "Aneegma," in that I am NOT a 'morning person' to start with, and my slogan is, "If it's not yet noon, don't ask!" On top of that, I have chronic insomnia, most often caused by the old mind refusing to power down for the night. Try as I might, it just will NOT "shut up!"

      I average 2 or 3 decent nights of sleep, and the rest of the time I sleep poorly. Ironically, I usually get the very worst sleep on the nights when I am just exhausted, and want nothing more than to climb into bed and just pass out.

      Luckily, I'm retired, so I have no place special to be in the morning; therefore, if it is after 4:a.m. before I finally nod off, I can afford to sleep until 10:30 to get some shut-eye. But after that, I do have to get up, take care of the cats and my husband, who is disabled (and who also tends to sleep late).

    • Aneegma profile image

      Jasmine S 

      6 years ago

      Easier said than done!! I'm not a morning person at all and if I lose sleep, I'm unbearable to be around. Great hub though, Well deserved of HOTD.

    • m_westrope profile image

      Marianne Westrope 

      6 years ago from Central Ontario

      Coffee first thing and then reminding myself how well I'll sleep tonight. You're right. Try not to focus on the cause of your sleepless night. I leave it behind and keep moving.

    • SEEMA AQUA profile image


      6 years ago

      Great job Excellent I like this statement step #8 & #9....thanks thanks for sharing........

      Excellent hub.

    • uzma shaheen profile image

      Uzma Shaheen Bhatti 

      6 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

      Excellent hub! I liked all the steps especially "Go easy on yourself" this is very important to avoid frustration and stress.

      great job. sharing it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great job! I like this statement step ( 7 Remember, whoever you interact with today is probably not to blame for you losing sleep last night.)

      Great Article!

    • kerlund74 profile image


      6 years ago from Sweden

      Excellent:) This really is useful! Congrats:)


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