7 Ways to Function on Very Little Sleep

RosemaryM 17By Rosemary Marchese

Editor, B.A. Applied Sci (Physiotherapist)

7 Ways to Function on Very Little Sleep

While we all know we need sleep, and enough of it, there are times in life where sleep eludes us and we just have to get on with it. That’s often when you see the coffee line build up. Getting enough sleep is so important for your health but also your work productivity. The problem can also be that you are so busy or stressed about the work you have to do the next day that you can’t sleep! So, what do you do when the alarm goes off and you know you just have to get up? Try these tips to help you get by until you hit the pillow again.


  1. Get your blood moving; Start the day with even a short workout. This is my top tip. Exercise will boost your energy levels and get the blood (and therefore the oxygen) pumping around the body. Your brain can’t function without oxygen (well your whole body can’t) so even a short workout will get you through at least the morning. Then I suggest you take another exercise bout, even a walk, in the middle of the day.
  2. Drink lots of water; With fatigue comes dehydration. Adding some fresh lemon to your water can pep you up a little too. Dehydration will make you sluggish, so keep water at your desk. Start the day with one or two glasses of water too.
  3. Get outside; Sunlight will set your body clock up ready for the day. It will improve your mood and give your immune system a boost. Sitting inside all day after little sleep is bound to set you up for a drowsy afternoon!
  4. Break your day up into chunks; Staying focused on one task all day is going to lead to boredom! Monotony is the worst thing for a productive day, and definitely not recommended if you are lacking sleep! I recommend no longer than two hours (with a short 5 minute break after 1 hour) on one project or task within a project.
  5. Have a cool shower; Start your day with a cool shower and perhaps take another opportunity to have another cool, short shower during the day if you have access to one. If you are at work you can try splashing cold water on your face.
  6. Prioritise your day with important things first; Set up your day so that you complete important tasks when you are most alert. Push back meetings to a time that suits you if possible. Keep the day as simple as possible.
  7. Take a catnap; Schedule in a 10-20 minute catnap at around 2pm, even if you don’t feel like it. This will help avoid the 3-4pm slump that is inevitable after a night of crappy sleep.

Remember that minimal sleep is not recommended in the long term and is associated with so many health risks. Also, don’t drive when you are tired! The key to having a productive day is to know your tired signs and plan your day to get the most out of yourself, but be reasonable.


make-it-count-smallRose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’. Visit www.thefitbusymum.com.au

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