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How to Work on No Sleep

How to Work on No Sleep

Sep 07 2016

This is slightly away from the business of CV writing but I think it's worth putting out there that there will be times when, as a working mum, you may have to go to work having had little or no sleep. How does one survive such a day? It's one thing having had no sleep but being able to sit at home in your PJ's, but something else entirely when you not only have to put on (clean) clothes but you have to be productive and busy...and be fabulous at it, too

So, how do we manage this seeming impossibility? Having done this many times, I can tell you it's not easy but it is doable. Here are my best suggestions on how to make it through the day at work when you've had no sleep:

  1. More water, less sugar
    Caffeine is all well and good, but as well as giving you an energy boost it will dehydrate you and leave you feeling sluggish if you over do it. Drinking water will hydrate, therefore making you feel brighter and more energised and it will naturally improve the way your body functions. I'm not suggesting skipping the caffeine, but try to alternate coffee and water throughout the day. Similarly, if you start mainlining sugar it'll pick you up temporarily and then send you into a complete crash situation, which will make the tiredness so much worse.
  2. Try to get some fresh air
    Try to break up the day with a bit of fresh air and a slow walk around the block or around the shops...do this more than once if possible. Not only will it break up the day but may give you some relief from staring at your computer screen and should help to combat the mid afternoon lull you're inevitably going to suffer from.
  3. Make your colleagues aware
    This does depend on how long you have been in your job and how nice your colleagues are, but assuming you have proven your value and you work with a bunch of normal people, let them know you're tired and had no sleep so they can support you, give you a wide berth on things that can wait until tomorrow...and perhaps offer you a cuppa.
  4. Try to do something that you can just 'get on with'
    You'll find the day passes much more quickly if you can focus on one task or project. Today is not the day to juggle a million conflicting priorities, you won't have the head for it. If this piece of work can be done in a quiet room where you can close your eyes for just a few minutes, even better.
  5. Leave on time and try to get an early night
    Tonight isn't the night you can work late and go to bed at midnight. If you work in an environment where leaving on time is "frowned upon", explain that you're not feeling too well and you're going to leave on time, or even early if possible. Most decent employers are more than happy for you to leave early if you're not feeling your best as it's going to help you to recover and come back fighting fit tomorrow. If your boss isn't so understanding, tell them you have a doctor's appointment and swiftly exit at home time. Make an easy dinner and get yourself some rest.