11 Ways to Stay Awake at Work as a Sleep-Deprived Mom
There is no denying it – I am a major nerd. In undergrad, I maxed out my credits every single semester and considered it a luxury to sleep more than 3 hours a night. So, when I learned about how little sleep a new mom gets, I was totally like, “I got this.” After all, I remember not sleeping 7 days in a row (other than short power naps here and there) cramming for a chemistry final and survived. However, during school, I had the weekends or some vacation days to catch up on sleep. As a new mom, there was no break or such thing as sleeping in, so when I returned to work, I realized that lack of sleep during motherhood is a completely different ball game. I found myself dying trying to stay awake at my desk, and my worst fear was that I would fall asleep during a meeting in front of all my coworkers (and maybe even my boss, eek!). I am way too paranoid to turn to caffeine as a nursing mom, so a cup of joe is out of the question. So here are some non-caffeinated tips that I used to stay awake at work as a sleep-deprived new mom:
1. Get down and give me 10!
To get the blood flowing and heart racing, do some intense exercises such as burpees, jumping jacks, squat jumps, etc. as fast as you can for a minute. I used to run up and down the staircase at work to get my blood pumping. Then ride the exercise “high” to do some productive work while you try and catch your breath. Repeat as necessary. The great side-effect of using this tactic is that you get to stay fit without even going to the gym! Do dress appropriately when exercising to avoid potential injuries – you may not want to try doing jumping jacks in high heels or pencil skirts.
2. Drink a lot of cold water.
Believe it or not, drinking water and staying hydrated actually keeps you awake. It also makes you want to go pee, and I know I can’t fall asleep on a fall bladder. And guess what you need to do when you have to go to the bathroom? You need to walk, which goes back to the point about exercising mentioned above to stay awake.
3. Shed some layers.
Warm… cozy… blanket… bed… NO! Take off your cardigan or sweater and make yourself feel a bit chilly. Don’t start shivering and get a cold, because the last thing we want to deal with as a mom is any sort of illness, but just get cold enough to be a little uncomfortable and not want to drift off to sleep.
4. Lose the chair.
Can you fall asleep standing up? I know I can’t. So instead of sitting in your comfy, ergonomic chair, stand up and do your work. If you are fortunate enough, your workplace may have provided you with one of those desks that you can adjust to the right height so that you can stand to work no problem. If not, then find a high surface like the kitchen countertop and do work there.
5. Turn on the music.
Rock n’ roll? Hip-hop? Whatever your music style is, put on some headphones and let the music move you! Well, you may not want to bust out that moonwalk or the running man in front of your coworkers, but grooving to music definitely helps you stay awake.
6. Grab a friend (or friends).
I love to do work with someone else around because 1) I am less likely to fall asleep in front someone else, 2) I get to take a break and chat whenever I want. So, grab a friend or two and head into a conference room, an empty office, or the cafeteria to do some work together. Just don’t chat too much and end up not getting any work done!
7. Get a fresh breath of air.
Going outside and breathing fresh air can help reenergize you. So instead of eating lunch at your desk, go to a local park or even just a nearby bench outside your office and soak in some nature.
8. Eat some healthy snacks.
No, do not reach for those greasy potato chips or risk getting sugar-high (and then sugar crash) with those sweets. Instead, pack some energy-bites that are packed full of protein such as Peanut Butter Kamut Bites to boost your energy.
9. Hit your nose with some essential oils.
Aromatherapy with essential oils may be just what you need to keep your eyes open. I personally love using peppermint or eucalyptus. If you can’t diffuse essential oils at work, then dilute it in some fractionated coconut oil and dab some near your nostrils for some refreshing smell.
10. Do some acupressure.
Pressing on certain pressure points help stimulate the nerves and boost your energy. The most commonly known one is massaging your temples in a small circular motion. I love massaging my neck because it’s usually stiff anyway from being stuck in one position for too long. Ah, don’t you just wish your company would hire a massage therapist to help you stay awake? I would definitely work for that company!
11. Sneak in a power nap.
Power naps are not regular naps. You should limit the power nap to 15 minutes or less to avoid sleep inertia, or waking up groggy and feeling like you have weights on your eyelids. So, if you can find a place to take a quick power nap to recharge, do it – your workplace will survive without you for 15 minutes. Just don’t forget to set the alarm!
Sleep-deprivation is no joke for new moms, and if your kids are like mine, you are not sleeping more than 3-4 hours at a time until they are past age 2. So, if you find yourself fighting sleep constantly and none of these tips help, then it’s probably time to take a sick day and get some shut-eye. There is no shame in dropping your kids off at daycare or having your nanny take care of the kids while you catch up on sleep for a day. You will be thankful that you can be more productive at work, and have much more energy after you go home to your kids!
What other ways do you use to keep yourself awake at work?