Small Ways to Re-energize When You Didn’t Sleep Well the Night Before

If you didn’t get the rest you needed last night, there are ways to course correct today.

Tara Moore/ Getty Images
Tara Moore/ Getty Images

While getting quality sleep each night is always the goal, sometimes life gets in the way and interferes with our shut-eye. When it does, it’s important to have strategies that help us show up as our best selves the next day. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the little ways they re-energize when they didn’t sleep well the night before. Which of these tips will you try?

Do a 10-minute meditation

“When I need to re-energize myself, I do a 10-minute meditation using a meditation app. I am usually fine till after lunch and I make sure I get this meditation in before my afternoon meetings. I also make sure I focus on a reset breathing method throughout the day. You begin by exhaling, pretending you are blowing out a candle, and then you inhale two times. You do this set three times and you will feel the reset it gives to your tired brain. I often do this set in the morning and then again in the afternoon!”

—Beth Benatti Kennedy, leadership coach, Beverly, MA

Give yourself a relaxing morning

“When I have a sleepless night, I take the following morning off, make a nutrient-filled breakfast, put on one of my favorite movies, and chill out for a few hours. Taking some time away is essential for me. It’s also essential to provide time off to employees that have been working late into the night. Burnout leads to anxiety, depression, and poor decision-making.”

—James Petrossi, president of PTNL, Austin, TX

Try an outdoor workout

“After a bad night of sleep, I get out of bed, shower, put on my exercise clothes, and get out the door to walk, run or get on my bike. Just breathing the morning fresh air and enjoying my body’s exercise rhythm helps to wake me up. This ritual works for me. My thoughts turn to the weather of the day, the moving clouds and sky, the trees, and nature. It is also an opportunity to think about a creative writing project or to think outside the box. When I’m done, I can look forward to the good sleep I’ll have tonight.”

—Jill Shanks BSN MCEd, writer and researcher, Saskatchewan, Canada

Call a friend for a good laugh

“A good laugh helps me re-energize after having a night of not sleeping. I like to jump on a phone call with a sibling or friend to get a good belly laugh from a crazy story or life event.”

—Jessica Williams, career consultant, Fairfield, CA

Make time for stretching

“Doing some morning stretches always helps me when I’ve had a bad night of sleep. While stretches are important every day, I find them to be especially effective to re-energize and reset from a disruptive sleep.”

—Marta Rzeszowska Chavent, management and change consultant, France 

Stay hydrated

“I drink a lot of water to re-energize after a bad night of sleep. My sister has a master’s in Biology and says water is the answer to almost every physical malady, whether it’s tiredness, headaches, or digestion issues. I also choose to do a low-energy-expending activity, like reading or writing.’

—Courtney Daniels, filmmaker, Los Angeles, CA

Give yourself 30 minutes to rest

“I have had my fair share of sleepless nights, from chronic illness or a stressful job. My biggest tip would be just to lay down and rest. I’ve been there — you had a long night, either you couldn’t fall asleep for hours and hours no matter how hard you tried, or you did go to sleep, but couldn’t seem to stay asleep, and now you’re feeling the pressure to have a productive workday. I’ve learned that if I am too tired to keep forging ahead, it’s a better use of my time to lay down for 30 minutes, giving my brain and my body a chance to rest, rather than trying to power through.”

—Alyssa McDowell, health and wellness publications, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Take a hot shower

“As an OB-GYN, I’ve spent 20 years getting interrupted sleep, because babies come when they come! I find the best morning boost is a hot shower. They always told us in medical school that a hot shower is worth two hours of sleep and I believe it.”

—Heather Bartos, MD, OB-GYN, Frisco, TX

Add citrus to your water

“If I don’t sleep well the night before, I make it a point to add a piece of citrus to my water. I drink two glasses of water before my first cup of coffee. I feel the citrus water adds a boost of flavor and energy to my morning.”

—Kristin A. Meekhof, author and life coach, Royal Oak, MI 

Recite a quote that energizes you

“I have a notecard taped on the cabinet door by the coffee machine that lists my three daily affirmations.  Truthfully, many times I don’t pay attention to the card when I’m in a groove, but after a restless sleep, I recite them while the coffee is dripping to get an energy boost.”

—Donna Peters, executive coach and MBA faculty, Atlanta, GA

Have a “mind over matter” mindset

“When I have a full day of clients on my calendar and I need to feel energized after a night of almost no sleep, I put on makeup, drink something with caffeine in it, and drive with the windows down with fun music playing. Most importantly, I do not mention to anyone that I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. That will just be giving yourself permission to allow the drowsiness to sink in and slowly take over your entire body. Mind over matter. It works like a charm!”

—Jillian Potashnick, fitness instructor, Las Vegas, NV 

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