Let’s face it. As a freelancer, your job is never done. There is always something else you need to be working on.
And when crunch time comes, sometimes that means late nights. Really, really late nights.
But the human body needs adequate sleep to function well. When you’re low on sleep, you don’t just perform less efficiently. You actually reduce your immune system.
So this post is for all you sleep-deprived freelancers out there. You already know how to hustle. Now it’s time to learn how to recover from missing a night of sleep.
Understanding Sleep Debt
Most people require at least 7 hours of sleep per night to function optimally. However, according to a report from the CDC, 30% of U.S. workers get 6 or less hours of sleep on average.
When you regularly miss out on a good night’s rest, you accumulate sleep debt. Basically, this is the sleep that you owe your body. And it adds up over time. Miss an hour of sleep every day for a week, and suddenly your body is functioning at a 7 hour sleep debt.
What’s worse is that sleep debt doesn’t always make you feel sleepy. If you push your body too hard and miss too much sleep in a row, it adapts to the stress.
The problem is that this adaptation only means you don’t feel tired. Your body and mind, however, continue to display signs of increasing fatigue. Eventually, the piper calls. And the only way to pay back your debt is to give your body the sleep it needs.
7 Tips For How To Recover From Missing A Night Of Sleep
Enough with theory. Let’s get practical.
Here are genuine strategies for how to recover from missing a night of sleep right now. Some help you makeup your sleep debt. Others help you push through it temporarily. Others are just advice to prevent it in the first place.
#1 Don’t Neglect Your Daily Hygiene
So you had a bad night of sleep last night? You are probably groggy, irritable, and lethargic.
It can be easy to skip out on some of those normal daily hygiene routines. Especially if you work from home like a lot of freelancers.
In your exhaustion, you might accidentally skip the shower, let the stubble grow one more day, stay in your pajamas, and maybe even forget to brush your teeth (yuck!).
Whatever you do, don’t neglect these important routines.
Not only do they make you feel physically refreshed, but they are also signals to your brain. Over the years, your brain has made a habit of these morning routines. Going through the motions prompts your subconscious that it is time to get up and get to work.
#2 Drink Water And Eat Healthy
Another sad, snowballing effect of fatigue is to neglect your diet. You are in a rush, so it would just be so much easier to eat a donut for breakfast and grab some fast food for lunch.
The problem, of course, is that these heavy foods only make you feel worse. Simple carbs and refined sugars cause more than just uncomfortable bloating. Your body also burns through them very quickly which can lead to an energy crash. So you’ll feel even more exhausted.
So eat healthy and stick to your normal diet. While you’re at it, drink plenty of water. According to Harvard Health, water is necessary to carry nutrients throughout your body and lack of proper hydration can lead to even further fatigue.
#3 Spend Time Outside
Sunlight is necessary for producing Vitamin D, which has been demonstrated to reduce the effects of fatigue. So if it’s not rainy or grey, try to spend a little bit of time in the sun during the day following a bad night of sleep.
Furthermore, light exercise like walking can release endorphins. These are one of your body’s mood regulating hormones. They make you feel good and can help overcome the negative mental state associated with poor sleep.
#4 Squeeze In A Nap
Even if you can only fit in a 20 or 30 minute nap during the day, that is better than nothing.
Not only will it make you feel a bit more refreshed to get through the rest of the day, but it is also going to start making up that sleep debt before it accrues too much.
You have to pay it back eventually. Better sooner than later.
#5 Go To Sleep Early Tonight
Try not to pull two all-nighters in a row. If you got bad sleep last night, do everything in your power to turn in early tonight.
Bad sleep is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your mental exhaustion causes you to fall behind on your work, so you push another night to try to catch up. But then you are tired the next day and fall behind even more.
And so on and so forth until you are basically a walking zombie.
End the cycle tonight by getting a good night’s rest.
#6 Don’t Make a Habit of Losing Sleep
Most freelancers can’t avoid the occasional late night of work.
You get a big bump in sales. Something in life pops up that makes you put off your work. Or any other number of countless situations occur that just lead to a bad night of sleep.
But don’t make a regular habit of it.
Develop a good nighttime routine. Set a bedtime for yourself. Avoid caffeine late in the day. And mold your work schedule around your sleep schedule—not the other way around.
#7 Seek Professional Help
It should go without saying, but just to be clear: if you have a regular problem with insomnia or other sleep issues, don’t get your advice from a blog post.
These tips are to show you how to recover from missing a night of sleep due to the incidental duties of the freelancing life.
Sleep health is serious business. So be sure to seek help from a medical professional if you have severe problems getting good sleep.