When you have promises to keep (and miles to go before you sleep)

Posted May 16 2015, 5:09 pm in , ,

Sleepy-womanWith all due respect to Robert Frost, there’s not an author out there who hasn’t experience that hollow-eyed moment of knowing that there is simply too much to do and not enough time to do it in. But how do you keep awake when you’re on deadline and sleep is clawing at your bones? Though nothing beats the value of a deep night’s rest, these five tips can help you keep the lights on as long as there are words that need to be written:

1. Drink up the… water

Thought I was going to say coffee, right? Or at least green tea, which also contains caffeine? While caffeine is an undeniable energy booster, too much of it can leave you jittery. Instead (or at least in addition), consider downing an 8 oz. glass of water — ideally cold. The flood of refreshing H2O will jump start your system and can help you refocus.

2. Run some stairs

The idea here is to get your heart moving. Just five laps up and down the stairs will take you less than a couple of minutes, and will get your blood pumping, clearing away the cobwebs. Not in the mood for stair laps? Dance around your office to fast music, jog in place, do jumping jacks… anything that gets your heart racing will help.

3. Take a power nap

You know yourself well enough to know if this trick will work. For some people, even shutting their eyes for a moment will send them into a deep catatonic sleep. But for may people, a twenty-minute power nap is all that’s needed to relax the brain and refresh the spirits. The trick? When you wake up – REALLY wake up. Try the above tricks as well as the ones that follow to really inform your body that it’s time to get back to work.

4. It’s breakfast anytime!

Once again, you’re looking to (kindly) shock the body into an altered state. Think of how you wake up every morning, and duplicate your process. A hot or cold shower could be just the ticket, especially combined with your pick-me-up of choice, whether that’s water, coffee or tea (again, it’s possible to overdo the caffeine, but desperate times call for desperate measures). Caffeinated sodas can also provide a jolt of energy, but they come fraught with their own problems, so turn to soda sparingly. Eat a healthy, high protein snack, and turn on ALL the lights… even better, get some sunlight if you can!

5. Everybody, Inhale!

This last tip comes from the good folks at WebMD. Utilize deep breathing exercises to jumpstart your brain – you can do them at your desk!

Technique #1:

  • Sit up straight, and aim for ten deep breaths, with a focus on inhaling into the abdomen, not the chest.
  • With one hand on your belly (just below your ribs) and the other on your chest, inhale deeply through your nose and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
  • Then, breathe out through your mouth, lips pursed as if you’re whistling. Imagine your hand “pushing” on your belly to help “push” the air out.

Technique #2:

  • Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed.
  • Keep your breaths short — like you’re panting, with about three inhales and three exhales per second.
  • Then, breath normally.
  • Start out at fifteen seconds of each session of “stimulating breath”, gradually increasing by five seconds at a time until you reach a total of 60 seconds of this fast-breathing process.

No matter what you try, understand that these are quick – and temporary – tricks. As soon as you are able, get a good nights’ sleep. It’s the best thing you can do for sustained productivity.


1 Comment


One response to “When you have promises to keep (and miles to go before you sleep)”

  1. Editors, too, have late-night cramming sessions sometimes. 😉 I’ve learned the secret to napping is that I must do it while sitting up in my desk chair, all the lights still on. If I move to the couch, forget about it, I’m down for the count! And I set my alarm on an app that makes me solve math problems to turn it off. (Sure, one time I _almost_ shoved my phone in the freezer because I was too out of it to solve the math problem and couldn’t stand the beeping any longer, but 9 times out of 10 it’s a good wake-up strategy.)

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