15 Ways to Bounce Back from a Poor Night's Sleep

How to fight grogginess, grumpiness, and an all-around lazy brain.

Is there anything worse than hearing your alarm go off when you're already lying there dead-awake? Getting a poor night's sleep can really affect your well-being: you feel tired, groggy, grumpy, and stressed all day long—and not even free coffee refills can get your usual energy levels back. Instead of attempting to combat your sleepiness with caffeine, try these 15 ways of bouncing back from a lack of shut-eye to conquer your day. And for more on sleep, read up on 20 Doctor-Approved Ways to Get a Full Night's Sleep.

Walk Some Stairs

higher energy person Poor Night's Sleep

When you're feeling totally exhausted, doing a stair-climbing session probably isn't your first choice for an activity. It will boost your energy levels, though — promise. So much so that a 2017 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior found just 10 minutes of walking stairs can give you more energy than 50 mg of caffeine — aka about the amount in half a cup of coffee.

 Avoid All-Day Caffeine

drinking coffee can make you instantly happy Poor Night's Sleep

Speaking of coffee, when you're feeling groggy, it's probably what you reach for first. The issue with that is that drinking coffee after lunchtime is only going to lead to yet another sleepless night, making it nearly impossible to bounce back from the poor sleep you already had, says a 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. To ensure you don't mess up your sleep schedule even more, sip on your caffeine in the AM and make sure you don't drink anything within six hours before bedtime.

Eat First-Thing in the Morning

breakfast heart healthy diet Poor Night's Sleep

If you're not typically a breakfast eater, that habit is about to change — especially if you're feeling super-tired. According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, having something nutritious (not sugary carbs!) to eat within an hour of waking up will give you a much-needed energy, mood, and brain boost — all things that come in handy when you're lacking on sleep.

Don't Hit the Snooze Button

Poor Night's Sleep

As tempting as it is to continually hit the snooze button after a night of crappy sleep, don't do it. No, seriously. It might seem like those few extra minutes are doing your body good, but that choppy, fragmented sleep is only going to make you feel even groggier in the end, says a study published in the journal Sleep. Get up right when your alarm goes off and you're bound to get back on track quicker than you would by pressing snooze. For more advice on sleep, check out these 70 Tips For Your Best Sleep Ever.

 Do Some Skipping

woman skipping Poor Night's Sleep

All right, so it might feel weird to skip around as a full-grown adult, but when you're sleep-deprived, it can make a big difference in your energy levels. A study published in the journal Biofeedback found participants felt much more awake and lively after skipping rather than simply walking around slouching. So relive your childhood recess days and you might not pass out at your desk before lunchtime.

Don't Sleep Away Your Afternoon

non-coffee energy boosters Poor Night's Sleep

Just because you're tired and sleep deprived doesn't mean you should spend your afternoon napping, no matter how bad you might want to. According to the Mayo Clinic, snoozing more than 30 minutes will just mess up your sleep schedule for another night, making it hard to conk out come bedtime.

Do Sneak in a Midday Power Nap, Though

Napping Poor Night's Sleep

You don't have to forbid all naps, though. While long naps are only going to cause bodily destruction, one study published in the journal Sleep found sneaking in a quick 10-minute nap over your lunch break can give your energy a major boost and even improve your cognitive performance. And if you can't fall asleep that quickly, just set a timer and close your eyes to reap some benefits from the quick relaxation sesh.

Do Some Light Exercise

Pilates Clock Abs Beach Body Tips Poor Night's Sleep

Here's your excuse to avoid sweating it out like crazy at the gym. (You're welcome.) A study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found those who did light exercise were way less fatigued than those who tried to do a heavy workout. Instead of fighting through a HIIT class on no sleep, do something that's not going to send your heart rate out of control like yoga or Pilates.

Stick to Your Regular Sleep Schedule

sleeping man Poor Night's Sleep

If you plan on going to bed a few hours early to make up for lost sleep, don't: the National Sleep Foundation says it's not possible to catch up on sleep. And veering from your regular sleep schedule and logging more hours to try and overcome sleep deprivation will only make matters worse, resulting in you feeling even groggier with poorer focus and slower reaction times. Instead, hop into bed and get up as usual and your body will naturally get back on track.

Take a Walk Outside

old couple walking dog Poor Night's Sleep

When you're feeling the effects of horrible sleep, one of the best things you can do for your body is get outside as much as possible. A 2012 study published in the journal Infoscience found sitting in your office all day under artificial lighting can make you even sleepier while getting outside and spending time in natural light will leave you feeling much more energized.

 Take a Cold Shower

bad puns Poor Night's Sleep

Sounds awful, right? While scrubbing away in a hot shower after waking up might make you feel even sleepier, a study published in the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions found taking a 3-minute-long, ice-cold shower can do the opposite, helping fight off the not-so-pleasant effects of chronic fatigue.

 Bundle Up

best tips for dressing well in your 40s Poor Night's Sleep

You might reap some benefits from taking a cold shower, but it's hard to bounce back from a poor night's sleep when you're shivering throughout the rest of your day, too. A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found a drop in your body temp can make you feel extra drowsy, so making sure you have on plenty of layers can keep you feeling energized.

Be Social

never say at work Poor Night's Sleep

When you're tired, the last thing you want to do is be the office social butterfly — especially when all you can think about is lying your head down at your desk and passing out. A 2012 study published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills says it might be worth forcing yourself to interact with your co-workers, which has been shown to make you feel more awake.

Say No to Booze

two businessmen drink at a bar Poor Night's Sleep

Be social—but not too social. Drinking alcohol before bedtime isn't going to do anything but set you back from poor sleep even more. According to the National Sleep Foundation, having a nightcap disrupts your circadian rhythm and blocks your REM sleep — two things that are crucial to getting quality shut-eye. Instead, stick to mostly water throughout the day (with the exception of some coffee!) to rehydrate and energize your body.

Do Some Deep Breathing Exercises

instant mood boosters Poor Night's Sleep

Breathing is something people don't often think about: it just happens. But if you take the time to pay attention to your breath and breathe deeply in and out, you can increase the blood flow in your body and amp up your energy levels, says a study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses. Plus, you can get rid of some of your pent-up stress, too. For more on stress relief, check out The 10 Best Non-Exercise Stress Busters.

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Tehrene Firman
Tehrene Firman is a freelance health and wellness writer. Read more
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