Good and Bad Habits When Surviving on Poor Sleep

Updated May 27, 2022

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Rough Night?

As you may know, it is important to maintain a consistent sleep schedule to ensure quality sleep. No matter how good your sleep habits are, you will have to survive after a night of sleep deprivation. Whether you were up with a crying baby, studying late, or you just couldn’t fall asleep, sometimes life just happens.

Whatever the case may be, now you need a way to power through that day of work or critical test. You need to find a way to help yourself until you can make it back home. This page will provide some do’s (and don’ts) of surviving without enough sleep. All of these solutions will provide short-term help and are not a sufficient substitution for a good night's sleep.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can cause sleepiness. Drinking extra water will give you the best chance to stay feel more awake. If nothing else, getting up to go to the bathroom more will make you more active. This topic is covered further in our page on winter and sleep.

Take a Nap

If possible, try to take a 20-minute nap to recharge. This may not be possible for everyone. Taking a nap that lasts longer than 30 minutes could lead to grogginess. For more help on taking a nap, check out our page on the benefits of napping.

Stay Active

Taking a walk outside will stimulate alertness in the brain. Sunlight will provide your body with natural cues to make you feel awake according to WebMD. If you are tired, keep your physical activity light, and make sure not to push yourself too much. Even a small amount of exercise can improve sleep.

Caffeine Consumption

woman drinking coffee

Drinking caffeine in moderation can help keep you feel awake. 100 mgs to 200 mgs of caffeine can provide a stimulant effect that can last three to four hours. Drinking anymore will likely not provide any more help. Too much caffeine will have negative effects which will be discussed later.

Keep it Simple

Don’t be afraid to push any non-urgent tasks to another date. Simplify your day so you can accomplish your tasks with quality without pushing yourself too hard. Experts also recommend not making any important decisions if you are overtired.

Avoid Excessive Caffeine

As discussed earlier, a small amount of caffeine can help make you feel more alert. It may be tempting to drink large amounts of caffeine, tea, or energy drinks throughout the day, but this could backfire. Caffeine can stay in your system for 8 to 10 hours which means it can cause sleep loss later at night. Check out our page for dietary help on what to eat and drink to improve sleep.

Avoid Engaging in Dangerous Activities

If possible stay away from operating heavy machinery, or driving. You should also avoid any other dangerous activity. Engaging in certain activities while sleep-deprived can put yourself and others in danger.

Don’t Overeat

man eating a burger

Eating large meals will make you feel tired. Keep your meals light throughout the day to give yourself more energy. This could mean eating several light meals to keep your energy up.

Snacking late at night is also not a healthy sleep habit. Laying down with a full stomach can lead to heartburn, as well as obesity.


After a day of being tired, you may be tempted to go to bed much earlier or sleep extra long the next morning. This could affect your circadian rhythm or internal clock. Sleeping a little extra is okay, but sleeping all day can do more harm than good.

Oversleeping can cause a lack of sleep the next day.


Everyone has to power through a day after a sleepless night. The best way to make it through is to pace yourself and make healthy eating choices. Keep moving to stay alert.

Avoid drinking too much caffeine because this will just lead to more sleep problems in the future. Avoid any activity that requires excessive mental focus because you could endanger yourself and/or others. Sleeping a little extra will help you recover, but too much will have a negative effect on your sleep schedule.

For better sleep, maintain a healthy bedtime routine. Make sure you have proper sleep hygiene to make sure you are obtaining 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Bad sleep habits and the inability to get a good night's sleep can lead to sleep disorders and a weakened immune system.

Talk with your health care provider if you think you may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or insomnia. Without a good night's rest or treatment, you could be at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain mental health problems.

About the Author Steven Bieber

Steven Bieber HeadshotSteven is a content writer who recently broke into the mattress industry. In his free time, he enjoys watching football and listening to music.

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